Rating: PG-13. Maybe.
Spoilers: After 'Enemy Within'. The other show - well, I don't watch the X-Files that often.
Synopsis: Mulder and Scully investigate a gangland battle with potentially catastrophic consequences, the only witness being an eccentric Englishman...
Disclaimers - the X-Files and all related characters belong to an aging surfie known as Chris (t) Carter.
The Doctor, the TARDIS, and all related paraphernalia are owned and created by a bunch of putrefying civil servants in England called the BBC. If anybody thinks that Internet Fan Fiction would be used for profit, may that person suffer extreme pain in a certain region below the waistline.
The Truth Is Out There - But Who Knows. by Adrian Tullberg.
San Francisco, Chinatown District, 9.35 pm.
The alley was pretty unremarkable by whatever standards governed the space between buildings in the United States. Undistinctive brickwork, little graffiti, and not a sleeping bum in sight.
Five figures entered the alleyway - all were of average height and build, but carried themselves with remarkable confidence. They were also all of Asian descent.
One of the figures, named Po Chan, was carrying a large dark blue gym bag in one hand. With his compatriots watching the immediate area, hands in their jackets, Chan removed five odd-looking devices. They were a metre long, dark grey, boxy in construction, terminating in a short stubby nozzle five centimetres wide. The devices also had a moulded plastic handgrip and trigger setting, making it certain what these devices were - but not how they worked.
The group of youngsters didn't have long to wait. A black sedan shreeched into the entrance of the alley where the five had previously entered. All doors opened, allowing six people to clamber out of the car - all Asian, all exuding menace.
Not one person in that alley was over eighteen.
Po Chan spoke, breaking the tense silence which accompanied the chill night air. "You can't move into the restaurant area - that's our turf. Leave it alone, or ...."
The leader of the other group leaned casually against his car, confident in the power he held and the safety that accompanied his influence. "The White Dragons take whatever they want - especially from a group of guys that just got half of them thrown into Juvie on breaking and entry."
Po Chan quickly leapt to his left - the other two gang members jumped to their right. The three kept their backs to the wall, presenting a smaller target as they began to open fire. This operation was conducted with years of practice in American gang warfare. Immediately, the other group took shelter behind their considerably large car, pulling out an assortment of automatic weaponry.
Normally, the group with the greater cover - that is, the White Dragons, situated behind a solidly built and illegally customised vehicle - would win, being able to safely pick off their opponents.
This was not a normal situation.
Po Chan aimed his unusual gun at where the chest of the White Dragon's leader would be behind a car door. He pulled the trigger, the device humming briefly, then emitting a metallic chung!.
The White Dragon leader was setting a boxy carbine to fully automatic fire, when he felt a solid pain, similar to a heavy blow, dead centre where his heart was. He looked down, frowning when he saw no blood. Then a wave of dizzying pain swept over his entire body, and collapsed to the ground, unable to breathe - or move.
The other White Dragons suffered similar incidents, and they all went down, the alley filled with humming and metallic echoes. An occasional conventional shot went off - but that was swamped by the electronic warfare being waged.
Completely drowned out was a bizarre mechanical groaning, enemating from the far end of the alley.
After no signs of life emerged from the vehicle, Po Chan stopped firing, motioning to his compatriots to stop, and cautiously moved towards the car. What he saw delighted him - every White Dragon dead.
Only one of his side was down - caught a ricochet in the head. Po Chan didn't care now - he had just dealt a major blow to one of the most powerful gangs in the city. He let out a screeching war cry, which his friends echoed. With these new weapons...
"Every time I come to this city I seem to appear in the middle of a small war."
Po Chan whirled around, his new gun at the ready. Standing in front of him was a Westerner. In bizarre clothes - they looked like they came from one of those chick flicks set in five million BC or whenever.
The Westerner narrowed his eyes, squinting at the weapon. Then something like concern filled his face.
"You don't know what you're doing with those weapons. Get rid of them, immediately."
Po Chan raised the weapon towards the Westerner's face. "Take a walk. You saw nothing, okay?"
The Westerner sighed, and raised what looked like a small torch with a metallic disc on top. He pressed a control on the device, and a high-pitched humming filled the area. Instantly, the gun in Po Chan's hand grew unbearably hot, and he immediately dropped it. Just in time to see it burst into a smoky flame.
One of the gang members weren't as quick, and shrieked as his weapon burned his hands. All the new weapons were now melting puddles of plastic and metal.
The gang immediately ran, scattering in different directions. Po Chan attempted to push past the Westerner, who grabbed him by the arm, rattlesnake fast. Po Chan pulled out an automatic pistol, a firm believer in More Firepower, and brandished it, confident that the gwai lo couldn't melt this piece.
The gwai lo stood in front of Po Chan, face full of anger. "Drop your weapon now!"
Chan aimed his pistol towards the westerner's head - who ducked, and shoved him with an open palm into the nearby trash, covering him with refuse, making him drop his gun. The angry young man got up, and launched a fast piston-like kick, which would have crippled any man on the receiving end. The westerner simply sidestepped, letting Chan's momentum carry him into the ground. He was about to get up again when something extremely heavy landed on his spine. Chan looked to his left, seeing grey-clad leg originating from his shoulder - the guy was sitting on him, he realised with embarrassment.
The westerner shuffled around on Chan's back - the gang veteran realised that the westerner was supporting some of his own weight on his legs so that he didn't cause his captive too much discomfort. Chan suddenly wished that some of the cops that had arrested him were as considerate as this.... weirdo!
The flashing lights and sirens of the police suddenly filled the alleyway. The gwai lo suddenly got off Chan, and hauled him to his feet with little effort. Chan's brain filled with confidence, even as the cops swung him around, and handcuffed him. With the new weapons destroyed - there was no evidence that he had wasted the bodies laying around the vehicle.
Chan grinned as he was hauled into the cruiser. He doubted if a murder charge could be slapped on him - there wasn't even a mark on the bodies.
Better get more of those guns though. The White Dragons were now leaderless, and their territory could be taken with little effort.
The gwai lo was being escorted - no handcuffs on him yet - into a cruiser. Chan stifled a laugh; the do-gooder was probably going to get busted himself for this. Teach him to stick his fat nose into other people's business.
Those thoughts warmed the youngster as the cruiser pulled away from the crime scene.
23rd Precinct, San Fransisco. 10.45 am.
The nondescript rental car turned off the main highway into the parking lot of the police station, and was guided into a nearby spot. Almost immediately, the driver and passenger side doors opened, and two people got out. The driver was male, roughly six feet in height, sporting brown lanky hair and a build to match. The passenger was female, significantly shorter, and had flame-coloured hair framing a pale complexion.
Special Agent Dana Scully (MD) was tired, irritable, and more than willing to take it out on the constant source of her irritation, Fox Mulder - her partner, her (sometimes) best friend, her main reason for numerous near-death experiences and at least three months of amnesia.
"You dragged me out of bed at five in the morning to investigate a gang shootout Mulder - I hope it's good."
Mulder gave her a hangdog expression that usually failed to work - now was no exception. "I could have told you on the plane, but you insisted on sleeping."
"Just give me the facts."
"Last night, there was a gang shootout in Chinatown - two gangs fighting over turf. One side wiped out the other in minutes."
"Gee, sounds like a typical X-File to me."
Mulder ignored the pithy sarcasm. "The coroner's report stated on first examination that the bodies of the gang that lost didn't have a single mark or wound that would account for their deaths."
Scully stopped walking towards the precinct entrance, and looked at Mulder carefully. "Are you sure about this, I..."
"Scully, there was nothing - no entry or exit wounds, no major bruising, no puncture marks, no apparent loss of blood pressure. From the position of their bodies they were struck dead instantly."
Scully nodded, assimilating the facts. "Any signs of disease? Poisoning?"
Mulder shook his head, hefting his briefcase. "The coroner faxed a report to the Bureau last night, and it came across my desk - good thing I was working late."
Scully snorted. "I was enjoying being at home before five for the first time in four months."
As they entered the lobby of the station, the doors leading to the interior opened, and a portly man in the uniform of the San Francisco Police Department approached them.
"You're Mulder and Scully?"
The agents instantly produced their badges - the man watching their moves with bright eyes squinting in suspicion. Then he nodded to himself, and proffered his hand.
"Sergeant Keller. I was the first one on the scene of the shootout. The station's appointed me to liaise with you during this investigation."
Mulder took his hand in an automatic handshake. "Isn't there a Detective? That's the usual...."
Keller shrugged - and Scully watched the man's three chins moved, fascinated by the motion. "Well, the chief has this...thing with the FBI. Anyway, the Detectives on duty today are all...busy. I'm trying to make Detective, I don't know if that counts...."
Keller let his conversation trail off. Scully knew then that this was not going to be one of the easiest cases she had embarked upon. The tensions between the FBI and the local law enforcement agencies in the U.S. were always an underlying issue, but she couldn't remember receiving a deliberate snub like this.
Mulder filed a mental note on the similarity of the brutal turf war and the territorial squabbles of State and Federal Law enforcement officers, and filed it away in the Unimportant section of his brain, along with how to operate Windows 95 and the date of his mother's birthday. The case was all that mattered. Another mystery to crack.
"We've read the coroner's report. Any other information?"
Keller nodded, and produced a thin folder. "The statement of the passer-by who called 911, priors on the deceased, reports, interviews with the locals - all here."
Scully took the folder and started looking though it, quickly thinking through the priorities. "Has an autopsy been performed?"
"Booked for twelve p.m. We had to let the gang member we caught go - a Juvie."
Mulder took the file from Scully and casually flicked through the contents before passing the collection of paper back to his partner, who resumed her reading. "Any witnesses apart form the passer by?"
Keller grimaced, and opened the door leading into the rest of the station. The three of them passed through the central work area, filled with the clicking of multiple workstations. "I wouldn't call him a witness, exactly."
"What do you mean by that?"
"He said he witnessed the whole thing. Identified every perp from mugshots - all from the same gang, not just picking faces at random, so we know his recollection of events are accurate. We're holding him on a suspected murder charge - but there's no evidence, we can't hold him forever."
Scully had nearly finished reading the folder Keller had handed them. "So what's the problem?"
Keller stopped at a door near the end of the work area, opened it, letting the agents go through first. They emerged in a small, adjoining office next to an interrogation room. The office was darkened, containing only a tape recorder, a table and four chairs. Dominating the wall opposite the door was a large glass window - the visible side of a one-way mirror.
On the other side of the glass was a man, sitting down on a chair next to a scarred metal table. He was wearing a nineteenth century blue frock coat and cravat, with an elegant stick pin in the middle. An ornately woven paisley vest, old wing-collared shirt and grey pants. His hands were hand-cuffed, resting on the table corner - and his right hand was mechanically bobbing up and down. Mulder peered closer, watching his movement - and suddenly noticed a moving, whizzing wheel appearing near the prisoner's palm.
This guy was using a yo-yo.
Keller saw the oscillating movement, and jerked backwards in shock. "What the...we searched him when we brought him in! How did he bring that in the room?"
Mulder thought of an answer - and snapped it back. He didn't want to exacerbate the bad relations, which were currently landing them with a portly uniform hoping to make detective.
Scully's eyebrows were raised, indicating slight amusement. "I can see why he can't be considered prime witness material. Carrying any weapons?"
Keller shook his head. "That's bothering me. Weirdos around here like to carry something - a knife, a piece; but this guy didn't. A lot of weird stuff, but nothing that could be stuck into your average man on the street." The portly sergeant pointed to the table. Scully saw several evidence baggies containing a variety of junk; a browning apple core, some kind of torch-like metal rod with a dish-like emitter on top, a signed Frank Sinatra CD, computer chips, wires, an abacus... and this was the stuff she could identify. The whole five-by-five foot table was covered with all sorts of miscellaneous junk.
Suddenly Keller remembered something. "There's something else - he hasn't asked for a lawyer or a phone call. Only fifty plus cups of tea - and he hasn't even asked to go the bathroom. He's been in there since ten p.m. last night."
Scully looked at her watch - it was nearly eleven. Mulder shook his head in unashamed naked amazement. "Did he give a name?"
Scully was leaning close to the window at that point, trying to make out the man's features. A shock of long-ish brown hair was partially veiling his face - then he looked up. A pair of bright blue eyes. Set within a very pale face, they delivered a fantastically intense expression.
At that very moment, his eyes met hers. She knew that it was only coincidence that he was meeting her eye level through one-way glass - but the eyes and the face that were looking, communicating with her were almost alien in nature.
She looked at Mulder - definitely too much time spent with 'Spooky'. She became aware that she missed something in the conversation.
"I'm sorry, what did you say his name was?"
Mulder shrugged. "No name."
"Just called himself - 'The Doctor'." Added Keller.
Twenty minutes later, Mulder and Scully had prepared for the interrogation. Fresh tape and batteries in a tape recorder, notepaper and pens, and a cursory examination of the available files.
Scully had her hand around the doorhandle. "Ready?"
Mulder looked again at the individual in the interrogation room. "I doubt that this is going to be any problem. Say - half an hour tops."
Scully opened the door and the two agents filed in, prepared to deal with this as quickly as possible. 'The Doctor' stopped his yo-yoing and looked up at the new arrivals.
When pressed later, Mulder and Scully would admit that this was the exact time when the interrogation fell out of their control. During their careers they had gotten used to looks of surprise, resentment and anger during any interrogation they conducted of suspects in custody. Scully first thought that the expression on The Doctor's face was wonderment - then, an instant later, she placed the expression with the state of mind.
Mulder noticed the prisoner's expression, but decided to plow ahead. He sat down at the table, opposite The Doctor. "I'm Special Agent Fox...."
The man got up from his chair, radiating a delight that seemed to virtually light up the entire room. "...Fox Mulder! And Dana Scully, MD!" The Doctor's handcuffed arms shot forward, and vigorously shook Mulder's hand, rapidly repeating the procedure with Scully, who was just getting seated.
Mulder knew an English accent when he heard one, but couldn't place the area. Since his voice didn't have the clipped upper class tones of Phobe Green, he guessed that the prisoner didn't originate in London - maybe someplace further north of the capital. Liverpool, maybe?
The Doctor continued, displaying a boyish charm which struck Scully - for a moment, until his next comment replaced her initial appeal with suspicion.
"I must say, that I'm very pleased to meet you both! I've always wanted to meet you two in the flesh, but you know - things pile up, bills, previous engagements, the heat death of the universe, and so forth. I positively devoured your book, Dana - I can call you Dana, may I? I bought the hardback some time ago - and I knew should have had it on me.... no matter. Fox, your articles...."
Scully held up her hand, trying desperately to stop this torrent of words and get any word in edgeways. "Just a moment! I've never written any book...and how did you know our names?"
The man's face suddenly crumpled - reminding Scully of a four-year-old that has just embarrassed himself in public. "Oh dear - I've done it again...it's 1997, isn't it?"
"Last time I checked..." noted Mulder, stony-faced.
The Doctor's face suddenly broke into a large grin. "Oh well - you should never listen to what I say - I certainly don't, as a rule."
Scully nodded as she sat down and placed her notebook down on the scarred table. On the paper, she wrote Full Toxic Screen; Blood Alcohol and Intoxicants. After a brief pause, she wrote Psychiatric Evaluation under the first line. She then revealed her tape recorder and sent the tiny wheels spinning inside.
Scully began to ask a question - then she stopped, struck by something about the prisoner. Keller stated that he had been in this room for the better part of a day. The prisoner's remarkable bladder control to this extent could be explained by simple apprehension to use the bathroom in a police station.
However, this guy had no stubble. No Five 'o clock shadow. His chin looked as smooth as a baby's rear. How could.... then an explanation popped up in her head: some kind of underdevelopment in his hormonal balance - such cases had been cited before. Scully started her questioning again.
"Last night, you witnessed a gang shootout in the Chinatown district."
The Doctor nodded, now completely serious. "Yes. Two directly opposing groups attacked each other in what appeared to be a pre-arranged conflict. Both factions were Asian in descent, nobody over the age of eighteen. I've already identified all the members of both groups from police photographs."
Mulder had opened the file given to him outside and was skimming through the contents. "We don't doubt that, we were wondering if you could shed some light on the fact that most of the fatalities..."
"...didn't have a mark on their bodies?"
Scully nodded, her features hardening with suspicion. "Yes.... no bullet entry or exit wounds, no major bruising..."
The Doctor waved his hand dismissively - no mean feat with both wrists handcuffed. "The victors in that battle were carrying primitive concussion rifles."
Mulder wrote down this little sentence. "Which are..."
"...dangerous anachronisms. The bodies will have internal organs that are scrambled beyond belief, almost liquefied, all evident in your autopsy." The Doctor then leaned dramatically forward. "Better wear goggles - internal displacement is very messy."
Mulder spoke slowly and softly, picking his words with care. "I haven't heard of any weapon called a 'concussion rifle'. Are you talking about..."
The Doctor quickly interrupted Mulder. "When I say a concussion rifle I mean a concussion rifle! You two are experienced in investigating unusual phenomena - gained by being permanently placed on the X-Files. Use that experience to include the possibility of advanced weaponry."
Mulder glanced in Scully's direction, who gave him a cautioning look in return. He turned back towards the Doctor. "How do you know so much about us?"
The Doctor gave the two agents a wide-eyed grin. "It was all her book."
Mulder stood up. "Interview postponed at 11:27 am." He grabbed Scully by the arm, and pulled her out of the interview room.
The Doctor simply fished his yo-yo out of his pocket and began it's gently oscillating motions in the silence.
Mulder looked at the placidly yo-yoing Doctor through the one-way glass, and looked at Scully. "What now?"
She took a deep breath, examining the evidence at hand. "Okay. He says he knows about weaponry that can kill without leaving a mark. He states that the internal organs will be liquefied when the autopsy is performed. He more or less recognises us on sight, knows about an FBI sub-department that the Bureau keeps as low key as possible and who's assigned to it - and appears to know more than he's telling us."
Mulder moved closer to the mirror, his lips millimeters away from the glass. "Scully, were you ever thinking of writing a book?"
She shrugged. "When Jose Chung came around, I've had a few thoughts - but nothing particular in mind. Nothing - concrete.....just what are you saying, Mulder?"
He turned away from the glass, expression featureless. "Nothing - I just had a thought - but it's too crazy to consider, that's all....."
Scully raised an eyebrow. "Rejecting one of your theories? There's still hope for you yet."
Mulder picked up the file on The Doctor and looked through the paperwork. "We need to have him transferred to Washington....I want to do this investigation on our own turf."
"That's pretty irregular. What reason can we give....?"
Mulder shrugged. "Say......say that his knowledge reveals classified information held in the X-Files, revealing complicity in espionage against a Federal Law Enforcement Agency. We can bring him in on suspicion charges."
Scully mentally reviewed the options. "We can have him transferred and held for 72 hours - after that, he's free, unless we can show evidence to substantiate the charges......but I don't think he's...."
Mulder looked up at Scully, expression intense. "He knows things, Scully - and that makes him important to me. He could be one of them."
Scully gestured with her thumb at the improbably dressed individual behind her. "Our - friends - usually have a more.....conventional dress sense, and would have gotten out of this station long before we got here with one phone call. He's been here for over twelve hours, and hasn't even asked to go to the bathroom."
Mulder had already picked up the telephone and was already making the arrangements with Sergeant Keller. Scully took a deep breath, looking at the Doctor through the looking glass, who had abandoned his yo-yo and was munching from a bag of - some kind of candy? She knew that Mulder did some unusual things on a regular basis, but hauling some eccentric across states on trivial charges was bordering on gross violation of authority.
However - he knew. Important details about both her and her partner. The people that they had consistently opposed ever since she first entered that basement office were too dangerous to simply ignore. Every lead had to be followed.
Besides - who would miss somebody like him?
Mulder and Scully had gone up to the precinct captain on the third floor and acquired the paperwork. They filled out the forms and signed the dotted lines. They had taken the lift back down to get The Doctor but found that the contents of their prisoner's pockets had been transferred to the Evidence Lockers upstairs. So they had to escort the Doctor back up and sign out the evidence - all in an enormous plastic garbage bag. Scully wondered how their prisoner managed to carry an awkward weight - a task that she had deferred gratefully to Mulder.
The Doctor was marched down the corridor, manacled hands in front of him. Scully considered re-cuffing this weirdo with his hands behind his back, then thought better. People who were dressed like this were essentially harmless as a rule.
The Doctor gave her and Mulder a cheerful glance as they proceeded to the elevator. "I really think that you should let me go. It's pretty urgent that somebody starts to investigate those weapons."
"I'm sure that we can take care of it without your help, Doctor." Muttered Mulder, his hand wrapped firmly around the Doctor's arm.
The trio neared the entrance of the elevator. Suddenly, the Doctor's head whipped around, giving Mulder a piercing glare. "I'm warning you - release me and I can help you. Otherwise..."
Scully nodded, her mind wondering if they should stop by a hospital and procure some Valium. "Yeah, sure, Doc. You'll burst out of those cuffs, overpower us, and escape from a building full of police."
Mulder grinned. "Wasn't that on a James Bond movie on HBO last night?"
The Doctor remained silent as they entered the elevator. As the doors closed, he suddenly gave a large smile, to nobody in particular.
Three floors down, the elevator doors opened.
The Doctor walked out, hands in his pockets, whistling something tuneless.
Behind him, Mulder and Scully were sitting on the elevator floor, back to back. The two handcuffs each that they normally carried were fastened securely around their ankles, and cris-crossing to each other's wrists. Both had delicate lace handkerchiefs stuffed into their mouths, and were struggling wildly against their restraints.
The Doctor stopped by a bin, and produced the two agent's weapons from a coat pocket. He popped them down the chute, and they gave a satisfyingly solid clunk as they touched bottom. He turned around to face Mulder, whose eyes were wide with amazement, and Scully, who was simply expressing pure murder.
"Sorry about all this - but I can't remain locked up while those weapons are being used in this time zone. We'll meet again soon." The elevator doors closed as the lift traveled up to a waiting passenger on the fifth floor.
The Doctor walked out of the office area, out and out of the lobby. The desk sergeant didn't give him a second look. Loonies like him should stay out of police stations - and besides, if the all-mighty FBI released him, who was he to object?
The Truth Is Out There - But Who Knows. by Adrian Tullberg. Part 2 of 4
Mulder and Scully were found soon afterwards. The precinct cops sniggered, finding it incredibly funny that a costumed weirdo had overpowered two trained and armed FBI agents while handcuffed, and simply walked away. Mulder and Scully ignored the jibes and went straight to Sgt. Keller's little cubicle.
Keller was watching a videotape of the Doctor and the two agents in the lift on a seven-inch black-and-white television. As Mulder sat down, the Doctor on the tiny screen had.... flipped his wrists, opening the cuffs effortlessly, and near-simultaneously snagged Scully's right hand, cuffing her. In the next second he had placed the other cuff around Mulder's right wrist and disarmed both agents.
By now they had just realised what was going on, but The Doctor had the upper hand, pushing both of them onto the ground, somehow grabbing their other handcuffs along the way and feverishly binding their limbs and gagging them with lace handkerchiefs. He quickly adjusted the two prone captives into what seemed to be a more comfortable position, all while stuffing the evidence taken from him into various pockets - none of them making a single bulge in his clothing. Then the elevator doors opened and he left, taking their weapons.
The whole operation took seven seconds from start to finish.
Mulder watched this image impassively. Keller turned around in his seat, looking at the two agents. "That guy is quicker and stronger than he looks. What next?"
Scully had been standing behind them as the image replayed itself. Her voice sounded horse - from restrained fury. "I want this guy brought in - put an APB out on his description, on suspicion of murder."
County Morgue, 12:12 pm.
The APB had been placed on the airwaves, but so far there had been no response yet - as if The Doctor had decided to disappear off the face of the earth.
Scully was clad in fresh surgeon's gown and strong latex gloves. Laying on the table was the body of one of the gang members that had been wiped out in the bizarre war. She picked up the scalpel - and noticed that the silvery instrument was shaking.
It was The Doctor, damn it. Effortlessly escaping like that. Humiliating her by using her own handcuffs to hog-tie her and Mulder. She took a deep breath and her trembling stopped.
Imagining what she would do to The Doctor when he was captured again helped as well.
She started her dictation. "Deceased is Johnny Tso, age sixteen. Male Asian, weight one hundred and fifty-seven pounds, height five feet ten inches."
She checked the motion on the cassette recorder, and continued. "There is no apparent cause of death - no entry wounds, no puncture marks, no symptoms associated with either any known poisoning or disease. Fluid content within the subject is relatively normal. Beginning first incision to examine the chest cavity."
She deftly made a Y-shaped incision along the torso, the diagonal cuts running from the shoulder area and meeting below the breastplate, and the final line drawn down a few inches short of the navel. She set aside the scalpel and peeled aside the long triangular flap of skin on her left with the ease of long practice.
Something she saw glistening under the now-exposed ribs made her gasp slightly. She quickly grabbed a metal rib spreader from the tray and wrenched open a space between two pieces of cartilage, the wet crackling sounds of her handiwork filling the refrigerated room.
The right lung was looking like so much hamburger - completely pulped red-and-blue hunks of meat. From her position, it looked like the heart had been subjected to the same treatment as the lung.
She took her scalpel again, and made a small incision into the lung in order to check it's condition. Immediately, a stream of viscous red-brown fluid spurted out from the volatilised organ and splattered over her goggles.
She instinctively turned away from the attack, the fluids continuing to spurt at her, hitting her cheek and onto her neck and gown until she flung up her hand to ward off the assault. The lung rapidly deflated inside the chest cavity as the matter that kept it's volume siphoned away under the pressure.
Soon, the enormous gout of liquid dropped it's trajectory, and the arc lowered until it hit the edge of the autopsy table, and the fluids splattered noisily against the edge and onto the floor, before finally subsiding. The rest of the exposed cavity slowly filled with the liquid. Scully waited until the splattering sounds from the liquid stopped before looking at what lay before her.
Gore was spread out from the right side of the cadaver like a bomb blast, and a ripe putrescent smell filled the once-sterile room. Scully looked down at herself, and found a garish streak of liquid meat running down her side like a toga.
She thought back to The Doctor's comment: internal displacement is very messy .
Typical British understatement.
Mulder waited outside the autopsy room for his partner. He realised that the steel confines of the morgue were essentially her territory, and an unspoken agreement had made itself clear early in their relationship - don't come in until she finishes carving the meat.
To pass the time he flicked through the arrest records of the juvenile who had been arrested along with The Doctor. Typical Chinatown Gangsta - or whatever they called themselves these days. In and out of the juvenile courts like a recurring virus. Eventually released over and over - but this would stop in fifty-two days on his eighteenth birthday.
As Mulder reviewed the records, he kept thinking about The Doctor. His hunches were usually supported by observations about individual's character and actions, and his hunch was that The Doctor wouldn't try to hurt a fly. His methods of capturing the teenager were non-violent, along with the way he and Scully had been immobilised. So his part about being at the wrong place at the wrong time were probably correct as well.
That didn't explain his pre-knowledge of what the weapons that killed the rival gang were called, however, as well as the near-intimate knowledge he had of both him and Scully at his fingertips. Or his insistence to act on the weapon's existence.
A shadow fell across the report, and he looked up to see Scully. She was wearing a different jacket and blouse from before, and she had the tired look on her face that she wore after a more gruesome autopsy.
"How did it go?" He stated, getting up from the uncomfortable plastic chair.
She revealed a set of photographs from behind her back, and Mulder looked at them apprehensively. The sights sent a jolt through his stomach.
Scully delivered a monotone summary as he flicked through each photograph. "Those are the organs of the gang members that lost the fight. The effected organs - usually a variation of the lungs, heart, intestine and brain - are all volatised, turned into pulp. But somehow, the exterior linings are relatively untouched, leaving the effected area intact. That's why there was no hemorrhaging of fluids into the rest of the body until-" Scully quickly sniffed her sleeve, checking that the smell of the desiccated organs were thoughroughly scrubbed away "-any incisions were made."
Mulder lowered the photos. "What about the bones, and other muscles?"
Scully shook her head. "Nothing else was touched. Whatever effected them only attacked the most vital organs. I've sent samples of the organ tissue to the CDC and USAMRID to trace any viral infections..."
Mulder gave Scully a quizzical glance. "If a disease caused this, Scully, wouldn't some other suffers have reported to an ER by now? If it's anything like Ebola, it'll be pretty painful."
"Mulder, I hardly see gang members going to a hospital if they can help it......"
"Most inner city gangs regard the emergency room as neutral territory, and most of the Chinatown gangs think the same way. I called the nearest hospital to the killings - Walker General - and they haven't logged any deaths similar to this..."
"Okay - say The Doctor was right about a new street weapon causing these deaths. He expressly stated to us the condition of the organs. That makes him the prime suspect."
Mulder closed his eyes briefly, wondering why he had to be paired with such a stubborn horse of a partner. "I refuse to believe that somebody who threw our weapons in a trash can rather than take them with him would be involved with a weapon like this." He stated, proffering the photos.
"Einstein's research made nuclear weapons possible. I still think that The Doctor is involved."
Mulder looked to the heavens, wondering if God was punishing him for his atheism.
San Francisco, Chinatown 5.45 pm
The Doctor walked around the alleyway where the battle had taken place. The clues and marks had all been swept away by the efficient machinations of the forensic experts and other bodies involved.
He sat down on a nearby crate, and considered his options. A gangland murder using anachronistic weapons from either another planet or another time zone. Those youths had probably obtained the concussion rifles illegally, so that meant hunting down the people who were making or providing the weaponry.
Also, he had the local police after him. Usually that wasn't a problem in itself - most of the time it was rare if the authorities weren't after him for some imagined crime or another while he tried to save a planet.
But Mulder and Scully - two individuals who's individual destinies were vital to the Earth and it's governmental operations were involved. If anything happened to either one - or worse, both of them - well, there would be hell to pay in terms of temporal paradoxes and Earth's destiny.
The Doctor stretched up, rotating one shoulder to ease the sudden tension in his back. "This isn't fair." He muttered. "I'm not the Ka Faraq Gatri any more - I've just regenerated. I shouldn't have to muck around with other people's destinies."
A sound - a soft footfall, just under the cusp of normal human hearing. The Doctor turned slowly towards the source, prepared to either fight, flee, or just confuse with a stream of nonsensical babble.
The man walked out of the shadows - late fifties, early sixties. Trenchcoat and well attired in a recently pressed suit. Carrying a briefcase. Smoking.
The Doctor narrowed his eyes, trying to recall this individual. "Do I know you?"
The individual took the cigarette out of his mouth, after teasing the last piece of precious smoke out of the tube with the care of a surgeon. Then he looked at the Time Lord. "Maybe you do, Doctor. Maybe you do."
The description of this individual clicked in the Doctor's brain. He recalled the appending data in the hardback buried deep in the bowels of his library, and slowly stepped back.
"I suppose that you have me surrounded, and I should surrender without a fight?"
The Cancer Man smiled, grinding his stub into the tarmac, before lighting up another cigarette. "Hardly, Doctor. Your files state that you usually find a way to defeat any situation. We consider you as an 'unassociated freelance' of some interest."
The Doctor snorted derisively, feeling extremely insulted. "'Unassociated...' 'Some Interest...?' I thought people like you might have the good sense to spend a little more time on my activities."
The Cancer Man shrugged, as he took another drag. "We have our own agenda. As interesting as your......background and your vehicle may be to other parties, there is a specific deadline involved in our Project."
The Doctor grinned. "Oh yes. That little thing. Rather a lot of effort involved in something as small as that."
The Cancer Man looked up, sharply and swiftly. "Small? Our Project......small?"
The Doctor waved his hand dismissively in the air. "Oh, I suppose I'm speaking from a different perspective. I've defeated more grandiose and further reaching schemes in less than a day then your.... employers have ever dreamed in all their sick, twisted little lives."
The Cancer Man briefly scanned the alleyway, smoke curling around his head like elemental fire around a dragon's nostrils. "And you're now involved in a little gangland war."
The Doctor gave his interrogator a sarcastic little smile. "By accident. Besides - the implications are enormous. Every life is important. A fact that you and your employers seem to have forgotten."
The Cancer Man grinned. "We try and look at the bigger picture. The nation and the world as a whole are considered. A few lives are worth the sacrifice."
The Doctor gave the Cancer Man a piercing look which sent a numbing jolt through his body - in his career, he had faced down Congressmen, Senators, Presidents, lunatics, monsters, mutants, all without a single flinch. Now this bizarrely dressed individual was starting to spook him.
"Nothing is worth sacrificing a life for. Ever. It doesn't matter what kind of intentions that you had or have. When it was decided that a living breathing sentient life is as disposable as a chess pawn, your whole despicable Project should have been abandoned in an instant."
The Cancer Man frowned, and took a cardboard folder from his briefcase, trying to change the subject. "We agree that the implications are important. That's why when we heard that you were in the area - I was instructed to show you this."
The Doctor took the proffered folder with the caution of handling a live rattlesnake. Opening it tenuously, he saw photographs of a warehouse - probably from a satellite in geosynchronos orbit. A photo of large trucks delivering massive items of machinery. InfraRed imaging. And an address.
The Doctor looked up, to see the Cancer Man firing up yet another cigarette. He looked up, and offered his packet to the Doctor.
"No thank you - kicked the habit centuries ago. Why exactly are you helping me?"
The Cancer Man took back the folder with a thin smile. "The individual controlling this little enterprise is beginning to indirectly compromise our own operations. We were about to...neutralise the problem ourselves, but since you showed up......"
The Doctor grimaced. "......you could use me as an ' unassociated operative'. Very clever. You're almost as bad as the High Council."
"Never mind. If you need my assistance - don't ever ask again." With that, The Doctor walked away from the Cancer Man.
The Doctor turned around resignedly. "Yes - what is it?"
"Just out of curiosity - ever since we've heard of your existence, half the time we expect....one of you to start sticking your nose into the Project. Why haven't you......interfered?"
The Doctor looked up to the sky, and worded his answer carefully. "Your employers are creating the future - although that future is not going to be what you originally planned. I don't intend to interfere..... just yet. Besides: there are several others who are perfectly capable of dealing with the problems your banal little organisation can create without my help. Anything else?"
The Cancer Man hesitated, took a deep breath of almost unpolluted air, and spoke the question that had plagued him for years - ever since he had heard of this individual's existence and what he was capable of.
And what he knew.
"Will......will we succeed?"
The Doctor's grim mood seemed to intensify. "Yes."
The Cancer Man started to smile, a grim hope beginning to touch his soul.
Then the Doctor gave a smile of his own. "And no."
The Doctor turned around to the exit of the alleyway, while the Cancer Man's hope disappeared as quickly as it surfaced. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Exactly what it means!" Came the distant shout, as the anachronistically garbed figure of the Doctor moved out of sight, into the warmth of the afternoon sun.
Keller drove around the streets of Chinatown, eyes on the crowd of people on the sidewalks, searching, and hoping.
Keller wanted more than anything to make Detective. He had the brains, he had the drive. His marks on the promotion exam were in the top five per cent of the city.
However, what he didn't have was a Rabbi - that is, a man within the Detective Squad high enough that could make certain recommendations on his behalf. With virtually every patrolman in this city wanting to make it out of the confining uniform that City Hall determined they should wear, a Rabbi was essential.
Somehow, within the social set of the precinct, he had failed to make the connection with any of the Detectives. However, his cousin within City Hall told him that the Promotion Board would give equal weight to a written recommendation by certain Federal agencies - and the FBI was right up there, especially with the selectman that had a son high up within the FBI hierarchy.
If he could find The Doctor - perhaps these two agents could write up some kind of letter. Mulder seemed more approachable than Scully. She was becoming more and more aggressive, as each search for the escapee turned up dead in the water.
Suddenly he saw him - a flash of blue and grey. Keller kept his gaze fixed on the road, not wanting to spook the man.
It was him - he hadn't bothered to change out of the costume! Keller calmly flicked on the indicator and pulled over to the right, watching The Doctor in the crowds.
The Doctor was consulting a piece of paper and scratching his head. Keller then saw him go to a shopkeeper and talk to him - and the man's reply and hand movements indicated that he was giving the bizarre Englishman directions. Keller recognised the shopkeeper - an elderly man who couldn't speak a word of English. The Doctor must know the language - but how?
Then the Doctor stepped out into traffic and hailed a cab, nearly getting run over by a Subaru. He got into the taxi and it took off. Keller calmly counted to twenty, then made a large U-turn and followed the cab.
The cab drove towards the outskirts of town, towards the industrial district. Keller kept a significant distance, not wanting to blow this tail. Eventually, the cab pulled over near a medium sized warehouse surrounded by chain link fence. Keller drove past the cab, then pulled over, watching the taxi. He saw The Doctor get out, and pay the driver. As the cab drove off, the Doctor opened the gate to the fence, and then the building itself.
Keller quickly drove away, towards a payphone he noticed a quarter mile distant. He could smell the new leather of the badge wallet already.
Keller pulled over to the booth, and quickly walked over to the phone. He thanked God that it was in perfect working order, fed several coins into the slot, dialing the number that he memorised. The phone picked up after two rings.
"I've found The Doctor."
Silence - Keller thought for a brief instant that the FBI agent had fainted. Then a reply. "Great. How did you find him?"
Keller opened his notebook - people trying to make Detective always kept the details down. He scanned the meticulous notes he had made learning shorthand at night school.
"Okay - I saw somebody of The Doctor's description while on patrol in the Chinatown area. With the clothes he was wearing he really stood out. I watched him for a while, he asked for questions in Chinese-"
"Where is he now?"
Keller snapped shut his notebook. "Warehouse - Corner of Haler and Interstate 14. I'm at the phonebooth nearby."
"Be there in five minutes. Get your shotgun ready."
In two minutes fourteen seconds exactly, a rented Ford sedan screeched to a halt, Scully bustling out of the driver's side door, Mulder closely following. Keller got out of his cruiser, shotgun in hand and Kevlar on torso.
"He's in there." Keller pointed at the large greying structure. Scully wordlessly walked over to the cruiser's open trunk and hauled out the two remaining Kevlar vests, tossing one to Mulder.
Her partner caught the vest and started fastening it around his torso. Mulder was very worried - she was never like this. Ever. The Doctor had reached down into her soul, and pulled out something dangerous.
"Scully, aren't you taking this a little too personally...?"
She whipped around to face Mulder with a vicious look. "That guy escaped from custody, and assaulted me - and you. I'm going to haul him back into a cell - dead or alive."
He sighed, raising his arm in submission. "Go ahead - make his day."
Keller looked at the diminutive form marching resolutely towards the warehouse. "She always like this?"
Mulder shook his head in wonder. "I guess it took somebody special to push her this far."
"Let's get him before she does, okay? You got no idea how much I hate writing those discharged firearm reports."
Mulder started to quickly run across the road to the warehouse, gun at the ready. Scully was waiting impatiently for the two men.
They walked around the back - Mulder noticing how dark it was getting. He looked at his watch, realising that it was past ten in the evening. The chain link fence was easily scaled, and the three moved cautiously around the side to the back door.
They opened the door, revealing a darkened space. The three law enforcement officers flicked on their flashlights, to reveal darkened objects - mostly pieces of machinery. Lathes, forges, toolbenches - a whole range of devices. The whole area was filled with the smell of oils and metal.
They moved cautiously through the area - Mulder noticing the glow up ahead. It was wavering - no, flickering, like candlelight. He motioned silently at the source of light up ahead.
Then there he was - The Doctor. He was holding a match up, using the light to examine a series of crates in front of him. His face was tense with concentration as he examined the contents of a crate.
Scully marched right up to him, gun outstretched. "FREEZE!"
The Doctor looked up, with an irritated expression on his face, until he saw who it was. "Dana! Take a look at this - I think these are..."
She immediately lowered her torch, and used her free hand to shove the Doctor onto the crate. "You're under arrest for suspicion of murder! You have the right to remain..."
The Doctor's muffled voice was filled with indignation. "You think I murdered those children? Good grief ..... I always knew you were stubborn, but isn't this taking things......"
Mulder stopped Scully from making any further moves. "Doctor, we're going to have to take you in. You did escape from federal custody."
"Interesting thing, Fox - why were you taking me into custody? You think that I had something to do with your sister?"
Mulder suddenly pushed Scully aside and grabbed the Doctor by the lapels of his jacket. "How the hell did you know about that?"
The Doctor met Mulder's gaze with equal intensity. "I have a different perspective on these things. I have certain advantages that you can only dream about. Facts that you two aren't ready for yet."
"Spare me the Obi-Wan Kenobi crap. I want to know..."
"Er, Agent Mulder?"
Mulder, Scully, and the Doctor looked over at Keller, who had been examining the contents of the crate that The Doctor had been interested in earlier. Inside, there were several boxy-looking weapons of plastic design and full of sinister intent.
"Those were the weapons that the other gang were carrying. Concussion weaponry. We have to destroy every one of those devices."
Scully was fishing out the handcuffs from her suit jacket. "Destroy all the evidence we need to convict you, then?"
"You still...if I had anything to do with this, you would think that I would at least turn on the lights?"
Immediately, the whole area illuminated at a stroke. The Doctor nodded graciously. "Thank you."
Mulder and Scully whipped around, weapons at the ready. The high roof of the warehouse was lined with a gantry, and at least seven men were on it, pointing similar weapons to the ones in the crates at the four figures on the floor.
Keller raised his gun at one of the men, not really believing that the weapons were actually real - the bore was too big for starters...
The Doctor was moving towards him. "Don't do it...!" Keller ignored the crazy, and fired a shot that completely failed to hit anything. Immediately, the air was filled with metallic echoes and high-pitched humming. The patrolman felt several sharp, twisting pains in his torso, and a few things break inside. He suddenly felt numb as he collapsed to the ground.
Mulder and Scully watched as Keller fell. They couldn't see any point of injury, any impact, nothing. The Doctor raised his hands, and gave an enormous bellow; "STOP THIS NOW!!!"
Amazingly, the men on the gantry did just that. One of them even made a motion to put his weapon down, but thought better of it, and kept it trained on the three people down on the warehouse floor. The Doctor went over to the prone body of Keller, and briefly examined him. He then closed the dead man's eyes, and laid him gently on his back.
The Doctor turned to Mulder and Scully. "Drop your weapons. Immediately. You haven't a chance." The two agents looked at each other then dropped their pistols, which clattered onto the floor.
"I knew it had to be you, Doctor."
The Doctor looked up, and saw a man - fifties, dressed in an expensive suit and overcoat. He walked down a stairwell connecting the gantry and the factory floor towards the Doctor, smiling, while two men accompanied their boss.
The Doctor looked carefully at the man. "I can't recall meeting you..."
"We never did. Ken Barstow. I was a Major at the US branch of UNIT during the seventies."
Scully recalled the name - UNIT; United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. The first international peacekeeping force in existence. Apparently, there was a branch in nearly every country, due to the UN charters formulated in Geneva. Nobody knew exactly what they did - Mulder would sometimes find an X-File on certain activities that UNIT was involved in, and make another wild theory about it.
Apparently the Doctor knew something, because his face filled with comprehension. "I see. That's why...." Then something like shock filled his face. ".... The Cybermen. That's where you got the technology, from the weapon dump in Brussels."
Barstow gave a what-can-I-do shrug, reminding Mulder of the last car salesman he met. "After retiring from the NSA, I needed a retirement fund. And with all that technology just lying around - can you blame me?"
"That technology was stored away from people like you for a reason!" Roared The Doctor. Barstow smiled in mock sympathy.
"And I guess the high-and-mighty Time Lords always know what's right for us." Barstow suddenly leaned closer to the Doctor. "We humans don't need somebody like you to take care of us, okay? I guess that you never learned that."
With that last remark, he turned to the gun-toting men behind him. "Take them into the big safe. Lock them in it with their guns - there's only a half hour of air inside, or less. Hopefully, it'll look like they wandered inside and got locked in. If not - we can always claim illegal entry without a warrant, and without their testimony, they won't have a thing to put us on."
The men nodded, and pointed meaningfully at Mulder and Scully with their guns, herding them towards a far corner of the warehouse. Barstow took a rifle from the crates and herded the Doctor in the same direction.
In a darkened corner was a large industrial vault. It was seven metres deep, four wide and three high. The three were pushed unceremoniously into the vault, and the door slowly closed. Just before it completely shut, the agent's guns and torches were tossed through the crack, and the vault door shut totally with a large thud that was felt rather than heard.
The Truth Is Out There, But Who Knows. Part 3 of 4.
Scully fished around for her torch and clicked it on. Mulder put his on too, wondering what the hell to do next. The Doctor was sitting placidly near the door, waiting.
Scully took her mobile phone out of her jacket pocket, and was frantically dialling while pacing up and down the vault floor, trying to make a connection. All she got was a silence that was remarkably like the tomb she was in now.
The Doctor had fished something out of a coat pocket - a stethoscope - and was placing the disk against the cold metal of the door, listening intently. Then, he dropped the disk, letting it dangle, and placed the earpieces around his neck. "They're loading up the weapons into what sounds like trucks. They seem to be in a hurry - say a minute at the most. We'll wait until they go before they leave."
Scully suddenly stopped her pacing, and angry stalked up to the Doctor. "Listen to me, nutcase - we are all going to die soon unless some kind of miracle happens. We can't get out of this vault, and the air is going to run out...."
"So stay calm and indulge me, Dana. Aren't madmen supposed to be humoured?" The Doctor grinned. Scully bit down on her lip, tasting blood. The Doctor didn't seem to have a care - didn't realise that Death was closely stalking them, getting closer with each and every limited breath the three of them took.
Mulder, remaining seated on the floor, looked at the Doctor. "You think you can get us out of here?"
The Doctor suddenly looked annoyed - no, insulted. "I know I can get us out of here, Fox. But I want a promise from both of you before I perform that particular task."
Scully risked a glance at Mulder before tentatively replying. "That being...?"
"You'll have those silly charges against me dropped. You know I had nothing to do with the murder of those children. I also want to offer my assistance in this particular case."
Mulder picked up on that archaic speech - referring to street toughs and punks as children, for God's sake. He quickly thought over the options. This guy had escaped from a pair of handcuffs in less than a second: that expertise might follow over to vaults - didn't Houdini escape from a locked safe on the bottom of a frozen lake?
And if the Doctor couldn't do it - well, nothing lost.
"Okay with me. Scully?"
Scully fumed, looking at her shoes, fingers tapping on her crossed arm. Then she looked up at the Doctor. "Deal. But step out of line, and....."
The Doctor grinned broadly, then produced a silver torch-like device. "Oh, you'll find me the most congenial of souls, Dana." He pointed the device near the section of door where the locking dial would be situated, and pressed a control halfway along it's length. Immediately, the small space was filled with a high pitched humming. After a few seconds of this treatment, several latches started clicking and grinding from within the massive door.
The Doctor turned to Mulder and Scully, smiling all the while. Then, with a theatrical flourish, he pushed the door open, the hinges groaning and echoing throughout the warehouse.
Scully stepped out first, looking somewhat amazed at the fact she was out of the safe. Mulder was close behind. The Doctor strode out, heading straight to the place where the weapons were previously. With a scowl, he looked around the area. "Nothing. Not a thing, not a shred, not a scrap, not a piece of a clue!"
Scully took a deep breath. "We haven't even notified forensics yet."
The Doctor gave her one of those pointed, intense looks that indicated he was about to impart some great knowledge. "That doesn't mean that we can't look for clues ourselves, can we? If you were a criminal with experience in Intelligence matters, what would you do?"
Mulder looked at the floor, and mentally debated this hypothesis. "Okay. He needs to distribute the weapons quickly and with maximum turnover. He's got a product that'll move like lightning once the right people hear about it. Someplace where there's an established criminal network and a prepared buyer."
The Doctor had fished a magnifying glass out of his pocket and was scouring the floor with manic intensity. Scully decided to dial the police - perhaps they could set out roadblocks and search each vehicle. Taking her mobile, she tried to dial, and found that she couldn't get reception. She then walked outside, taking in the cool night air, as she dialled the police department.
Her second try yielded results. "Special Agent Scully. We have captured the suspect known as The Doctor, and are now dropping all charges due to......new evidence. We've found the source of the new weapons - the warehouse on the corner of Haller and Interstate 14. There are several large container trucks headed out of the city, destination unknown, containing a stockpile of weapons...."
Scully's voice trailed off as something caught her eye.
A long strip of paper, most likely from a shredder.
The Doctor was examining the paper intently. The forensics team was bustling around the area, dusting and scraping and sorting. The uniforms were searching the area for more of the gun-runners, furious that one of their own had been wiped. Mulder and Scully were watching the Doctor examine the paper.
Eventually, he put the paper down. "It's part of a facsimile. According to the fragments left and grammatical structure, it's possibly a confirmation of a meeting."
Mulder took the paper, and started looking at it himself. "Meeting?"
The Doctor nodded. "Those trucks will meet the buyer, a transfer of funds will take place, and those devices will flood this country - and maybe this planet. You're doing a good job of killing yourselves, but this is help you definitely don't need."
Mulder looked from his examination of the paper. "The meet's in Los Angeles."
The Doctor looked up. "Really? How did you know that?"
Mulder pointed to part of a logo at the top of the strip of paper. "This is the logo of a trucking company held by one of the most notorious organised crime families in that city."
Scully looked at him appraisingly. "I didn't know you kept tabs on normal Bureau cases."
Mulder shrugged. "I can't stay in the basement all the time - there's lead in the paint."
The Doctor snatched the paper back, and was appraising it with fresh appeal. "Yes.... that seems to make sense. There's talk of performing this transfer on the waterfront - but I don't know where exactly."
Scully took out her phone again. "I can arrange to have the details of this family faxed through to us while we fly to Los Angeles: but to get search warrants arranged we'll have to talk to the local justices, and by that time the purchase...."
The Doctor held up his hand to stop her monologue. "What if I told you that I can arrange a faster means of travel than by aeroplane?"
There was a brief silence. Scully was the first to speak. "I'd pause in disbelief."
Mulder was close behind. "Then I'd ask you to handle the entire FBI's flight roster."
The Doctor stood up, and grinned broadly. "Splendid! I need to go somewhere to arrange this. Can you accompany me?"
The Doctor had ridden backseat in the rented car, complaining about the lack of music as Scully received her data on a laptop connected to a mobile modem. The Castillone Family in Los Angeles was heavily involved in drug trafficking, protection, and gun running. Nothing could be proven of course, but their influence had been felt throughout the city for nearly a decade.
"Apparently, there's been a major turf war - a lot of clear territory. The Castillones have a current manpower shortage...."
"...but a weapons upgrade to concussion weapons could turn the balance of power." Muttered the Doctor.
Mulder shrugged, as he turned a corner. "Just better ways of eliminating the competition. Are we there yet?"
"I've booked the tickets - three seats on Pan Pacific in forty minutes...." Mentioned Scully for the third time.
The Doctor suddenly pointed. "Over there - pull over now!"
Mulder pulled over to an alleyway next to a Chinese restaurant and a warehouse: not too far from the scene of the crime that started this mess in the first place.
The Doctor got out first, then motioned quickly for the agents to follow him. The Doctor led them down the alleyway, shooing aside a cat. They rounded a corner, and Mulder saw something very unusual - a thing that should have no place in any North American city alley.
It was a wooden telephone booth, painted dark blue. More effort had gone into the detail of it's construction than any standard 'phone booth. Two thin doors were set into a simple archway, and four rectangular panels were recessed into their surface. Occupying where a panel would be on both doors were a frosted glass window, separated into six sections by thin wooden divisions, a blue light glowing from within.
One panel - second down on the left door - had tiny white script carefully lettered, in the style of emergency instructions - what the instructions were couldn't be seen at their position. A slightly triangular roof was topped by a lamp.
The most prominent feature was a sign topping the doors' archway. White letters, illuminated from within, stated POLICE BOX. Wedged incongruously between the POLICE and BOX, in smaller script, was PUBLIC CALL.
Scully looked at the object with detached interest. "A - 'Police Box'?"
Mulder nodded. "I saw one of them in a museum in England - a cop-only phone booth. They were around before radio communications...."
The Doctor fished out a key and opened the doors, throwing them wide open, revealing a pitch blackness. "In you get."
Mulder gave The Doctor a look that Scully usually reserved for his wilder theories. "In the box?"
The Doctor hesitated slightly. "I.....have to go in here to start our journey We all have to get inside."
Mulder wasn't suspicious that this man wanted to get them into a small space. The Doctor had plenty of chances to escape during his time in their - custody, and had overpowered them earlier in a larger area. But there was still that lingering doubt....
Scully stalked past Mulder, and advanced into the Police Box. "I'll check out the phone in there..."
The Doctor's face twitched with concern. "Ah, Dana, I think it would be better if Fox went in first...."
Scully gave the Doctor a pitying glance, and went inside - the darkness swallowed her up. The Doctor ran a hand through his hair, more agitated than normal. "Oh dear.....I'd hoped that you could have braced her for it, but....come on." The Doctor grabbed Mulder by the wrist, and hauled him bodily into the darkness.
For a brief instant, Mulder felt a dizzying sense of dislocation, not knowing where he was - and even when he was, the only sure thing being the Doctor's hand around his wrist.
Then - a light, as two doors opened in front of him, made of brass and iron. Mulder followed the grip of the Doctor as he walked confidently through the opening. The FBI agent stood there - and stared.
He was in a massive room, vast, almost cathedral-like in appearance. There didn't seem to be any visible limitations to the room, seemingly stretching away to infinity, into a darkness that pervaded the whole area. What Mulder could see consisted of redwood parquetry floor and oak paneling, with brass railings and ironwrought supports underscoring the Gothic nature of this room.
Mulder took a chance and walked a little ways forward, barely daring to shatter the sense of this room. Dominating the room was a massive six-sided oak desk - no, a control panel, roughly mushroom shaped, resting on a raised wooden dais. Brass levers and knobs, dials and readouts dotted out of the console like a malformed anteater. On top of the control device was a glowing blue column, consisting of glass rods, enclosed within a transparent cylinder and iron framework.
On the top of the glass column, a massive iron cylinder surrounded by a series of concentric rings, topped the array. The cylinder rose to the roof - where Mulder thought the roof was, he wasn't too sure - and sprouted into four ironwrought arches indented with circles which ran down towards the floor and terminated near the base of the console's plinth. The Doctor was there, examining the dials and knobs, producing a rag to polish the already gleaming controls.
Mulder saw it all, realising the all important fact - all this was inside an ancient London Police Box which probably couldn't contain more than four foot square of interior volume.
Mulder uttered the first words that came to mind. "This.... this is incredible...."
He turned to Scully, who had a strangely calm expression on her face. "Scully! Don't you see? All this....all this! Inside an eight foot high phone booth." Mulder then turned towards the Doctor, the realisations and the excitement building up like a massive avalanche inside his soul.
"And if something like this is physically possible...think about it Scully...folding space like this into a much smaller area, it's actually possible to move faster-than-light along manipulated space...I mean, you're the physics expert...."
There was no response. Mulder walked quickly along to a massive wall covered in books, of all shapes, sizes and forms. He examined some of the titles, growing irritated by his partner's uncharacteristic lack of comment. "C'mon Scully - aren't you going to give us your opinion about all this...?"
A few beats after his comment, there was a distinctive sound of a dead weight hitting the parquetry floor.
"Scully?" Mulder turned, to see his partner prone on the floor. Her eyeballs had rolled up into her skull, and her breathing was shallow.
The Doctor had somehow come up to Mulder without a sound. They both looked at the woman who had just fainted for the first time in her life, then at each other. Mulder was the first to speak.
"She took it pretty well..."
"A lot better than I thought." Cheerily replied the Doctor. He strode over to her head, and lifted her up by the arms. Mulder realised what the Doctor was trying to do and picked up her legs. The two men quickly carried her to a nearby plush leather couch, and gently laid the prone body down.
Mulder gently shook her head by the chin. "Hey, wake up, you're missing the fun....." The Doctor re-appeared by Mulder's side, and produced a small glass vial, waving it under Scully's nose. Her face wrinkled, and her eyes fluttered open.
The Doctor grinned, and walked towards the console. Scully hoisted herself up, and scanned the surroundings blearily. Then, her eyes shot wide open with amazement, realising where she was.
"Mulder....? I thought.... the Box....big...."
He nodded, his eyes full of that manic light which worried her whenever she saw it. "All this - bigger than both our apartments put together - and more - in a phone booth. This is...just fantastic."
Scully held her head in her hands, trying to take it all in. Her voice was muffled. "How...just how is any of this possible? I can't......can't even think, or try to think how this is physically possible."
Mulder started to reply, then Scully held up her hand to stop his retort, a tired smile creasing along her face. "I know, I know...this is real, my senses are as acute as they were this morning. I know I haven't ingested anything remotely mind-altering, and the Box isn't next to a wall or on top of a manhole ... but ... you don't know how hard it is for me to actually... comprehend the mechanics, the reality of what I'm seeing. I compare the world with what I've ever known and ever been taught - and I see a football field inside a phone booth...."
"Then don't." Both Mulder and Scully looked up to see the Doctor flicking switches and throwing levers with unrestrained enthusiasm, looking like a demented mad scientist from a century past. He turned his head to them, and gave one of the smiles that challenged any observer's opinion of his sanity.
The Doctor left the console, and headed towards a red armchair, where a steaming pewter teapot, milk jug, sugar bowl and three fine bone china cups were sitting on an adjoining table. Mulder could have sworn that the tea tray and it's cargo hadn't been there before.
The Doctor started to pour the perfectly brewed tea. Scully's nose began to twitch at the scent that suddenly filled the area - tea leaves and ...blackberries?
"The thing is, Dana, you've always looked for an explanation - always placed rational thought instead of acting on the facts. In a laboratory, in a controlled environment, that may be very commendable, sensible behaviour - but not when you encounter the events that you usually do." The Doctor carried the tea tray over to the two agents, placing it on a nearby table - which Mulder knew had not been there before.
"You have to learn to challenge your own beliefs and concepts of how you know the world, and in general, the universe around you, and simply go along with your instincts. Never be too certain of anything - it's a sign of limited intelligence. Simply acting on what you were formally taught isn't the way to deal with life, with good or evil, the taxman, or simple destiny for that matter. You have to deal with the world using only your faith - and the occasional jelly baby."
He passed her a steaming cup of tea. Numbly, she sipped it - and closed her eyes, lost in the unexpected sensation of tasting the best cup of tea she ever had in her life.
Scully put her cup down from her lips and on the saucer. "Doctor - what is this - place?" she used her free hand to indicate the massive room they were in, and almost spilled her tea.
The Doctor was heading back to the controls, setting his teacup and saucer on a shelf that jutted around the circumference of the wooden console. "We're in the Console Room of the TARDIS. The acronym stands for Time And..."
"...Relative Dimension In Space...." finished Mulder. He had finished his tea, and was walking around the bookshelf that dominated one massive wall. The Doctor whirled around, expression intense.
"Just how did you know that?"
Mulder grinned. "The Four Horsemen once told me about a conspiracy by the British Government to hide the existence of a fully operational..." His eyes widened, as he realised the implications.
Scully almost spilt her tea again.
Mulder raced up to the controls, and grabbed the Doctor by the left arm. "Doctor - you've got to take us - the date and place is..."
"I know where and when you want to go to - and I can't allow it." He flicked more switches, and a massive humming filled the chamber, vibrations running through the floor as if a massive engine was powering to speed. "Besides - we're off - Destination Los Angeles, five minutes ago." The central column of glass rods began to move, the lower portion raising up, the upper portion lowering. The glass rods met, then separated. This column kept up the gentle rise-and-fall rhythm.
Mulder increased his grip on the Doctor. "I don't want to change it, I want to see what happened, whether...."
The Doctor shook his head. "You'll find the answers. Not now. Later. In the meantime, I'll help you find those weapons."
Mulder whipped out his gun, and pointed it at the Doctor's head. His expression was pure unadulterated determination. "This is a Time Machine, okay? We can go back to see Samantha, and then to Los Angeles. We've got all the time in the world."
The Doctor kept his expression stony, his gaze fixed on the rising and falling central column. "The interior of the TARDIS is a separate physical universe, with the laws of physics set down as I see fit. One of those laws states that guns don't work inside." The Doctor walked away from the controls, Mulder now looking very unsure of himself. Scully was standing now, watching the conflict with concern, debating wether she should support - or dissuade - her partner.
The Doctor looked at Mulder, expression sorrowful. "You can try and re-set the co-ordinates - if you can. Personally, I wouldn't."
"I just want.... want to know...."
"If you try to bargain with Time, she always demands a terrible price. I've barely begun to pay my debts-" The Doctor turned away from Mulder, and began to clear away the tea tray "-and you haven't the lifespan that I have. Don't attempt to interfere with Continuity unless you're a professional like me."
Mulder lowered his gun, head downcast. Holstering his sidearm, he turned away from the console, facing the library.
The rest of the voyage was conducted in silence.
Los Angeles. The home of the world's most expensive movie business, the most overpriced stars, multiple earthquakes, and a really enthusiastic race riot not too long ago.
Not too far from the waterfront, in the exit from an alleyway leading to a street, a bizarre sound, a parody of a great engine warming up, echoed through the area. A blue nimbus slowly faded into existence, increasing in density in time to the increasing volume of the groaning. The nimbus then took a specific shape - a rectangular blue box, with wood features and British origins. The groaning faded away as the TARDIS finally materialised into the real world.
The right door opened, and the Doctor's head popped out, looking at the immediate area. He then motioned behind him, and Mulder and Scully exited the time machine.
The Doctor looked around him, scratching his head. "Is this Los Angeles? I haven't been here that often."
Scully looked strangely at him. "You can travel around in a machine that can go anywhere and anytime and you haven't been to Los Angeles?"
The Doctor shrugged. "For some reason, I keep on heading towards England. London area, late twentieth century to be exact. The TARDIS likes it there, I suppose."
Scully was about to continue this, when Mulder called out, after looking in a nearby store window. "'Maps of the Stars sold here; $25.99' Either it's LA, or we're on another planet that's exactly identical to Earth."
Scully turned to the Doctor to observe a worried look on his face. "Mulder was joking, Doctor."
The Doctor's expression turned to relief. "Oh, I see." He turned back to the TARDIS, and carefully locked the door. He then patted the side of the box, muttering: "Well done, old girl, well done." He then set off out into the street, Mulder and Scully following him, trying to catch up.
Mulder got out his cell phone, and started dialing. "I'll contact the LAPD, try to find out where the Castillone's own dockside property. We'll try and work out where the best position is for a meet....."
The Doctor suddenly walked out into the street, and stood in the middle of the road. A police cruiser turned around a corner and headed towards him. The car stopped with a quick flash of it's lights and a blare of it's siren.
Mulder and Scully quickly paced towards the car while the Doctor headed to the driver's side of the cruiser. A uniformed sargeant got out of the car, hand resting casually on his revolver. The Doctor was smiling pleasantly, holding out a crumpled white paper bag. "Good evening Sargent! Jelly baby, officer?"
The sargeant was looking at the Doctor suspiciously. "Jelly...baby?"
The Doctor grinned hopefully, proffering the bag directly in front of the policeman. Mulder and Scully got up to the police officer and showed their badges. "Special Agents Mulder and Scully of the FBI. This is..." Mulder trailed off, trying to think of a term to use for the bizarrely garbed Doctor.
Scully found a quick excuse. "This is Doctor Albert Halliwell from London. He's a witness to a case involving the Castillone crime family and weapons running."
The cop's eyes opened wide at this. "You've got something on the Castillones?"
Scully nodded. The Doctor butted in. "I found evidence that they'll receive a shipment of weapons tonight on the waterfront."
The cop quickly motioned behind him, towards the car. "The LAPD's being trying to get dirt on them for years. One of their enforcers killed a friend of mine three years ago. Get in."
Mulder got in the passenger side, Scully and the Doctor got in the back. The cop started the cruiser and drove off. "The name's Griers. Ever since Jake was killed we've been busting our asses trying to get anything on them. We know they've only got one piece of waterfront property - a warehouse a few miles from here."
As Mulder questioned Griers, Scully leaned closer to The Doctor, who was looking out the window with an expression of wonder.
"Hey, Doctor." she whispered.
The Doctor turned to her, a brief smile on his face. "Sorry about that Dana - I've never been to Los Angeles in this time zone before. There's always something new to see, in every city and every decade."
"I have to know - are you..."
The Doctor looked at Mulder, and leaned closer to Scully, inches from her face. "Alien? I suppose you could say that. I was born on another planet, you know."
Scully looked towards Mulder, who was deep in conversation with the patrolman. "Don't tell Mulder or he'll be saying 'I told you so' for the rest of my life."
The Doctor shrugged. "Your fault really. You shouldn't have made your arguments so inflexible."
Scully immediately went on the defensive. "The energy expenditure for space travel plus the distances..."
The Doctor raised his hand to stop a potential tirade. "Wait, wait, wait, wait - Dana, just look out the window."
Scully peered out of the grimy glass, then felt strong pianist's fingers guide her chin upwards to the sky. Clear of the perpetual skyscrapers, she could dimly see a few pinpricks of clear starlight through the smog.
The Doctor's voice softly murmured in her ear. "Every one of those stars that you see are suns. Most of those have several planets in orbit. And most of those can support some form of life."
"That still doesn't explain away the massive resources needed for space travel."
"Never underestimate the passion and determination that life can generate Dana. The laws of physics are just like any other law - a little hard work at them and a loophole can always be found. You've only had fifty years to work on the basics of quantum physics - just try to be more creative in your outlook."
Scully turned to look at The Doctor. He was uncomfortably close now, looking at the stars with rapt attention. She tried to switch to another subject. "Why do you look human?"
The Doctor looked sheepishly at her. "Would you believe it's a total coincidence?"
"Thought so. There are over one hundred thousand inhabitable worlds out there just in this neck of the galaxy alone. With those odds, there's bound to be a few similarities. This is the closest planet nearby where my species can blend in unnoticed."
"So you're from this galaxy."
"Yes. Twenty-seven thousand light years from our current position, very close to the galactic centre. The planet is called Gallifrey."
"Home to the Time Lords - I didn't choose that title, it was Rassilon, bless his egomaniacal little hearts. We mastered Unlimited Time and Space travel millions of years ago and turned into the most powerful, stable, stagnant, corrupt, boring race in the Universe. There hasn't been a new idea for billennia over there."
Scully nodded. "Sounds like my medical school."
The Doctor shrugged. "Outsiders have compared it to the British Civil Service. I left ages ago. Borrowed the TARDIS and went to see the Universe for myself."
There was something in the Doctor's tone that alerted Scully. "Borrowed?"
The Doctor gave a nervous smile. "Well....on a 'finders keepers' basis. She was going to be scrapped anyway, and nobody owned her at the time."
Just as she was wondering how the hell she had managed to end up with the equivalent of an intergalactic car thief, the cruiser stopped.
Griers turned around. "This is it - the pier where the Castillones have waterfront property."
Everybody piled out, to see a fairly unremarkable chain link fence topped with three tiers of barbed wire. Beyond the fence lay a large free-standing shelter set near a pier. The large structure looked over two hundred metres long. Underneath the shelter were several piles of crates, dotted around on the concrete floor.
Griers looked it over. "We raid this place at least three times a month, but we think they've got somebody on the take - haven't found a thing yet. If it is tonight - it'll be one hell of a bust."
Mulder peered at the sight before him. "Doesn't appear to be anyone there."
The Doctor shrugged. "We're here early. Might as well get into position before the Castillone operatives get here."
Scully took out her mobile. "Sargent Griers, do you have the numbers of the local justices? We'll need to get a warrant...."
The Doctor took out the silver torch-device out of a pocket and aimed it at the thick padlock on the chain link gate. A high-pitched hum pervaded the area, and the lock unsnapped itself and fell to the ground with a clatter. He opened the gate, and proceeded to enter the area.
Scully grabbed The Doctor's arm. "You can't enter there....!"
The Doctor calmly removed her hand. "If I understand the local laws, evidence discovered by legal officers without a warrant is illegal to present in court. Unless an individual finds questionable material and summons help. I'll just pop in, and find the weapons, then you come in, alright?"
With that last remark, The Doctor walked towards the shelter. Mulder quickly followed him inside, and closed the gate.
"Scully - that guy hasn't got any kind of weapon to protect himself. You and Griers go around the side and look for anybody that looks connected with the Castillones. I'll shadow The Doctor."
Scully tried to say something when Mulder said something that stopped her from doing anything else.
"He knows - more than anybody else, he knows the Truth. I've got to find out what it is before he leaves." Mulder quickly dashed after The Doctor.
Scully turned to Griers, who looked slightly puzzled. "What was he talking about?"
She looked to the sky. "The Doctor knows something about Agent Mulder's relatives. It's personal."
Griers shut up, having his fill of domestic matters after three years on the LAPD. Together, he and Scully followed the edge of the chain-link fence.
The Doctor had gained an impressive lead over the last few seconds, and Mulder had to run in order to catch up to what was a self-admitted alien.
More than just an alien - a man with a time machine. He was certain that he could persuade The Doctor to tell him what was going on. After all, he had kept his Congressional contacts even through some of the worst muck-raking that the Consortium could engineer, his skill at fast talking was good enough.
The Doctor looked at Mulder as the FBI agent jogged up towards him and drew level at his walking pace. "You were meant to remain at the gate."
"I don't want to be too near Scully when the reality of your phone booth really sinks in."
The Doctor grinned, faintly. "Dana won't give you the satisfaction of her cracking up. You don't have to look after me, you know."
"The Castillones are probably the kind of guys who like to kill people slowly - and you don't have a gun."
"Death doesn't frighten me Fox. After you die for the third time - you can prepare for the jolt. I've had over a thousand years of experience at this kind of thing and I've rarely needed any kind of weapon."
Mulder turned to The Doctor, and tried to get the conversation over to the interesting subjects. "So you come from near here, right?"
The Doctor gave Mulder a peculiar look. "Didn't your mother say that it was impolite to overhear?"
Mulder shrugged. "She said a lot of things, but I never listened."
The Doctor sighed, and pointed at the various crates dotted around the area. "Let's start looking around."
The Doctor started towards a pile of crates a few feet in font of them, and began to examine them intently. Mulder, however, had other things on his mind. "Why the hell wouldn't you tell me?"
The Doctor sighed, and turned to face Mulder. "Why? Haven't you heard of cause and effect? Foreknowledge of your own future could result in a change of the timeline."
Mulder looked up at the roof of the shelter. "It couldn't cause that much of a change."
The Doctor laughed. "Historians thirty years from now are probably having multiple heart attacks. Your actions are going to have an enormous impact on the future."
The agent suddenly felt very faint - he placed his hand on a metal support pillar to steady himself. "I.... I become... some kind of historical figure?"
"Oh yes. You and Dana will become very important."
Mulder suddenly grabbed on a thread of logic. "You could be changing the future right now - even telling me about this. I think you'd better tell me exactly what my future is so that I don't change...."
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Fox, I have been traversing the Fifth Dimension longer than the current existence of the United States! When it comes to knowing how much pre-knowledge can influence the future - I'm a professional. Heard of UNIT?"
Mulder tried to cope with the subject change, but the new topic easily rose to the front of his brain. "Sure - some kind of Black Ops outfit that's existed since the seventies under the jurisdiction of the United Nations. There's strong evidence that they have had military contact with extraterrestrial biological entities who were trying to make peaceful contact with Earth Governments...."
The Doctor held up his hand. "UNIT was set up to combat alien threats to this planet. I served as the UK's Scientific Advisor during UNIT's first decade, and believe me, there was very little peaceful overtures made by those we encountered."
Mulder nodded, slowly, absorbing the data. "Alien threats? Invasions?"
The Doctor nodded absently, and set off towards another pile of crates in the distance. "Oh yes. You see, the Earth has been invaded - quite a number of times actually. One of the more notable attempts occurred in the early seventies, by a race known as the Cybermen."
Mulder struggled to keep up with the Doctor. He wasn't exactly out of shape, worked out regularly - but this costumed eccentric was slimmer and slightly shorter, and was effortlessly outpacing and outdistancing him without even being aware of it. "Cybermen...?"
"Cybernetic humanoids, emotionless megalomaniac monsters. Just another one of the ten a penny warrior races out there in space. Where was I? They used a wide-band hypnotic signal on a radio carrier wave to place the entire population of Earth in a trance. Their aim was to capture and convert every physically suitable human into identical versions of themselves before anybody knew what was happening. Very nearly succeeded too. I managed to stop them - but they left a sizeable amount of technology behind."
Mulder suddenly made the connection. "Let me guess - weapon technology."
"Among other fields, yes. One of those examples was concussion cannons. The British Government and the UK Branch of UNIT decided to place the research analyses of those weapons into storage - I managed to persuade the then authorities that humanity wasn't quite ready to deal with that kind of technology. They destroyed most of the samples left behind and 'warehoused' the existing technical schematics - but those documents were recently transferred to computer files and back ups in UNIT's central server in Brussels."
"Barstow must have broken into the files and copied the technology."
The Doctor nodded as they walked onwards. "It's quite a vicious little device - fires streams of electrons at near light speed, and scrambles the internal organs. The particles are small enough to pass through the normal molecular structure of matter, like body armour and walls like a household microwave passes through crockery. Fifteen kilometre range, can hit their living targets through walls, and they only need house current to recharge it's batteries."
Mulder closed his eyes momentarily, thinking of the results of just one inner city gang getting one or two of these weapons. He involuntarily shuddered. "If those things make it onto the arms market...."
"......you'll have mass slaughter on your hands." muttered the Doctor. "You humans are killing each other well enough on your own, but Cyberman concussion weapons could triple the body count overnight."
That comment brought a grim smirk to Mulder's face. "You're being a little optimistic there. The first thing any street gang would do with just one concussion rifle would be to wipe out every cop and opposing gang member in their city. And that's the first ten minutes."
The Doctor stopped, and swiveled around to meet Mulder eye to eye. The FBI agent caught the intensity of the glare full on, like a rabbit in the headlights of a car.
"You're learning, Fox." Whispered the Doctor
"That innocents are more important. Human lives, any form of living being, even the people who would see you dead tomorrow - they're more important than any grand scheme, any form of conspiracy."
Mulder wasn't quite ready for this - The Doctor had a habit of changing the subject without warning, only making sense to his own bizarre sense of priorities. He tried to defend his position. "I have to find the Truth."
The Doctor grinned. "Which is...? What is Truth? A very ambiguous concept. And what would you do if you had this 'Truth', in your hands, right now, free of charge, one time offer?"
Mulder opened his mouth to reply...and nothing came out.
The Doctor nodded, then turned around, resuming his journey, talking all the while. "The thing is, you're suffering from a tunnel vision. One long-term goal, barely thought out, which is steadily eating away at what's remaining of your life, your family, your friends...I suppose finding the end and breaking a major international conspiracy is important, but you've focussed on that one goal so much - that you haven't thought beyond that particular achievement."
Mulder had to run to catch up with the Doctor now, who seemed to have doubled his pace. "It's a pretty damn big thing you know."
The Doctor looked briefly at Mulder. "No matter how big it is, how far reaching and ultimately...alien to your way of thinking - none of it is worth your own humanity, your own morals, your own soul."
Mulder struggled with the concept. "I'm....that is, I...."
The Doctor gave a derisive snort. "Do you want to become what you hate, Fox? You were prepared to haul me away to Washington, away from my TARDIS, just on the off chance that I knew something -" The Doctor suddenly stopped "-which I do, I know a lot of things, but I can't tell you, continuity, and all that." With that, he kept on going.
The Doctor turned around. "What?"
"It's Mulder. I even told my parents to call me Mulder."
The Doctor instantly adopted a pained expression. "Good grief. Do you realise how anti-social that is?"
Mulder didn't reply, walking past the Doctor, who set off after him. "If you didn't like your name, you could have just changed it. I knew somebody who did."
"How about your middle name? William? Will? Willy? Billy? Bill?"
Mulder gave those constructive comments the contempt he thought they deserved. He looked up towards the end of the pier - and saw something. The distinctive glow of a cigarette, silhouetted against the darkness of the ocean. He drew out his automatic and motioned to The Doctor.
They silently ran towards the glowing - rushing to and ducking behind the various piles of crates that dotted the shelter's floor. As they got closer, Mulder noticed there was another person talking to the owner of the cigarette, but it was still too dark to make out their features.
The duo finally stopped behind a pile of crates a few metres away from the cigarette smoker and his companion - two thirty-something men of Italian descent and medium build. Smoker was talking, rapidly, to his friend. In Italian, or Sicilian, something Mulder had heard on one of the Godfather movies.
What unnerved Mulder was that he could understand every word.
Smoker finished his smoke and tossed the butt away. "...this guy guarantees weapons that can give us enough firepower to wipe out the LAPD, and only wants five mill. I think it's a bargain."
The other shrugged. "Hey, I think for that kind of money we should have a nuke as well and some tanks, okay? I don't think that your uncle should throw that kind of cash to any of those CIA pricks, even if those rifles can cook frozen pizzas while we whack somebody."
Mulder looked at The Doctor, who was watching the scene intently. "Can you understand them?"
The Doctor glanced briefly at Mulder. "Of course - the TARDIS is translating for you. You'll understand every language until she leaves the area."
There was a sharp metallic clicking behind them. Mulder twisted awkwardly, to see a young man with a ferret-like face and a concussion rifle pointed directly at them. The Doctor sighed, and stood up, hands in the air, not bothering to look behind him.
The gunman motioned to Mulder, who handed over his weapon. He then made the same gesture to The Doctor, who looked surprised.
"I never carry a gun - they go bang and hurt people." The gunman shrugged, and motioned to them to step from the crates and towards the two people nearby.
The smoker turned towards the little group, surprise evident on his face. "Hey, Joey! What's goin' on 'ere?"
The gun-wielding Joey grinned. "I saw these guys spying on you, Mr. Castillone."
The Doctor extended his hand to Castillone. "Hello - I'm The Doctor, and this is my friend Fox."
Castillone looked at his friend, uncertainty on his face. "Al, who the hell is this fruit?"
Al scrutinized Mulder and The Doctor with intense concentration. "That guy-" he muttered, pointing to Mulder "-is either a detective or a Fed. This guy is some kind of retard."
Castillone went over to Mulder, and quickly located the agent's identification. He quickly looked over the contents with a smirk. "'Fox'? What the hell did you do to your parents?"
Al was searching The Doctor, and was baffled by his findings. "No wallet or ID - but you wouldn't believe this crap....."
Joey coughed for attention. "Mr. Castillone? You want me to loose these guys?"
Al shook his head. "Mr. FBI here is on private property without a warrant. Take them out the gate."
Suddenly Castillone held up his hand for silence. "We can try out that thing Barstow gave us as down payment."
Al suddenly looked pensive. "Hey, I thought we agreed to test it someplace out of town...."
Castillone gave his lieutenant a scornful glance. "Well, I decided to test it on a Fed and a fruit. Nobody's around anyway...." He crossed over to a large crate that was nearby - over two metres long. Then he dug out a mobile phone out of his pocket, and a piece of paper. Mulder watched as Castillone laboriously dialed a fifteen-digit number into the mobile.
The crate suddenly crashed open - from the inside. A long, powerful silver-coloured arm smashed the front of the crate into long thin shards of wood. Another arm swatted away the pulverised wood with long sweeps, then the arms positioned themselves on the edge of the crate, and levered the rest of the body up.
Mulder watched, amazed, as something got up from the crate. The thing was at least seven feet tall, possessed incredibly bulky limbs with a thin network of rods running down it's arms and legs. It was covered in a silver rubbery material over the majority of it's body. A large box was situated on the chest, sporting several knobs, vents and switches, also what looked like a large lens on the top of the device, near the neck.
It's head was totally metal, a bulky box-like affair, with muff-like stridated blocks situated where each ear should be. Thin pipes ran from the middle of each block, and ran upwards, to terminate in a lens apparatus situated on top of the head. Underneath the head lens and in-between the blocks was a faceplate, having only a thin slit of a mouth, and two round, expressionless eyes. Incongruously, a teardrop was situated underneath each eye.
Castillone looked smug at this toy, Mulder was appraisingly cautious. The Doctor, however, was clearly agitated. "Mr. Castillone, I recommend that you get away from that creature, immediately."
Castillone looked at The Doctor. "How come, fruit? This is the Terminator, and it comes with it's own remote control." He proferred his mobile phone, by way of explanation.
The Doctor was undeterred. "That is a Cyberman. Obviously, Barstow has given you a reprogrammed unit by way of goodwill - but The Cybermen have a long history of turning on those they appear to help, believe me."
Al glanced at the Doctor. "Perhaps we should kill the fruit first - he knows about Barstow."
Castillone nodded his acceptance, looking at the piece of paper. "Okay, okay, the fruit first. "Lemme type this in...." Mulder watched as Barstow typed a series of numbers into the mobile, which resulted in the Cyberman's head jerking into action, surveying it's surroundings.
Castillone grinned, and spoke into the mobile's microphone. "Kill those two over there."
The Cyberman immediately strode towards Mulder and The Doctor, it's hands raising to neck level.
The Truth Is Out There, But Who Knows. Part 4 of 4.
The Cyberman stalked up to Mulder and The Doctor, hands at the optimum position to strangle the life out of any victim that it chose. Mulder looked at The Doctor, who was perfectly calm, not an inch of tension in his body.
The Cyberman drew level with them - and strode between them. They turned just in time to see the cyborg grab the amazed Joey by the throat and remorselessly squeeze.
Castillone looked at the scene with amazement while Al was more practical. "Boss! Use the control!"
Castillone typed into his mobile phone frantically, referring to his notes as the Cyberman throttled the young criminal, squeezing until a wet crack reverberated throughout the shelter.
While this was happening, Mulder and The Doctor quickly ran some distance towards a pile of crates, and watched from relative safety as the gangsters opened a barrage of lead at the Cyberman.
Mulder witnessed the flexible silver material that the cyborg was covered in deflect every bullet. He also saw the criminals backing away from the unstoppable juggernaut.
Mulder looked at The Doctor, who was watching the sight before him, with a grim, horrified expression.
"Can they stop that thing?"
"No. The metallo-plastic alloy of that Cyberman is completely bulletproof. No conventional firearm has a hope of scratching it. They're also ten times stronger than the human maximum, immune to fatigue, and devoid of any emotion."
"Apart from recommending it to work for the IRS, what can we do?"
The Doctor looked at Mulder, his expression barely restrained panic. "I... I don't know.... I think that either it's programming's degraded or that Barstow's attempt at conditioning it has wiped it's prime reasoning sub-routines. Otherwise we could have a chance of reasoning with it, make it retreat. Now it seems intent on exterminating any possible threat."
Mulder took his mobile phone out. "I can call a SWAT team - tell them to bring explosives...."
The Doctor shook his head. "We'd just get them killed." Then his face froze for an instant, then he looked at Mulder.
"Cybermen can't swim - at least not without modifications. They have no natural flotation you see. If we can get the Cyberman into the water, it'll sink into the mud, and be nearly immobile until I can make some explosives."
The Doctor took off his velvet frock coat and handed it to Mulder. "I distract it, while you get that trolley over there-" The Doctor pointed, and Mulder turned to see a long flatbed trolley, with a high handrail "-then I lure it into position, you get behind it, I shove it on, then we push like the clappers and tip it into the ocean."
Mulder had a question. "Why do you get to do the fun stuff?"
The Doctor sighed. "I'm the strongest, that's why. And it's not fun." With that remark, he got up and walked towards the Cyberman.
The Cyberman was just finishing throttling Al - Castillone was already decomposing at the machine's boots. Al was trying desperately to prise the Cyberman's fingers from his neck - but his efforts were slackening by the second.
The Doctor picked up a piece of wood, and smartly smashed it over the large head of the Cyberman. It barely paused in its actions, turning to look at this new attacker while tightening it's fingers around soft flesh.
"Well? Aren't you going to attack me? Try and tear me to pieces for daring to affront the Cyber Race?"
The Cyberman's wrists shifted, and Al's vertebrae cleanly snapped. It dropped the corpse, and started to stalk it's new victim.
The Doctor started to walk slowly back, making sure that the Cyberman followed him exactly in his footsteps. He knew that the Cyberman would conserve power by keeping at his pace, the engineers of this cyborg having long sacrificed speed for near unlimited endurance and fantastic strength. Why pursue your foes when the flesh would soon tire?
Mulder had grabbed the trolley, and was walking behind the Cyberman, some distance away. The Doctor kept his backwards pace, wanting to get as close to the water as possible. Remorselessly, the Cybermen kept stalking it's prey.
When The Doctor was roughly five metres away from the edge of the pier, he nodded made eye contact with Mulder, nodding briefly.
The FBI agent steeled his arms, and pushed the trolley like it was a Grand Closing Sale with VCRs at 95% off. The Doctor quickly ran at the Cyberman, and prepared to push like he had never pushed before.
The Cyberman effortlessly caught The Doctor's wrists, and threw him to the ground. Mulder, unable to halt his momentum, crashed into the cyborg's ankles, severely denting the flatbed. The cyborg turned to face Mulder, who was debating whether to fight or flee.
The Doctor got up, a gash on his forehead dark glistening red, grabbed the Cyberman's right arm. It simply grabbed him by the shirt front, and threw him away before turning to it's new opponent. Mulder watched amazed as The Doctor literally flew at least twenty feet before he impacted head first onto a metal roof support, and collapsed to the ground like a rag doll. He was suddenly picked up roughly by a pair of cold metal hands who began to remorselessly squeeze. Mulder's field of vision began to fill with red.
A loud metallic chung! reverberated throughout the area, and the Cyberman's grip loosened, the creature staggering.
Mulder quickly wriggled out of it's grasp, and started to scuttle away, his left hand massaging his bruised throat, his right arm trying to push his body into an upright position. Another chung! rang out, and the Cyberman staggered again.
Mulder looked for the source of the noise - and saw Scully, holding the concussion weapon that Joey the Mafioso had dropped while being strangled by the cyborg. She fired the weapon several times, hitting the Cyberman every time. It reeled under the assault, and finally crashed to the ground, a white fluid starting to ooze from every joint and it's mouth slit.
Mulder smiled - or tried to, his neck muscles hurt. "Hey, Sigorney."
Scully hoisted the weapon up towards the roof, a wry grin on her face. "Lost your weapon again Mulder?"
He shrugged. "It was taken from me this time. Honest."
Scully looked at her target with a suspicious gaze. "Mulder, you're the only agent in the Bureau that should have a string tied around your gun and your wrist." Then she saw The Doctor, and walked over to the fallen man. "What happened to him?"
"The Cyberman kicked his ass. How did you get here? And where's Griers?"
Scully started examining the unconscious Doctor's scalp - the blood was too dark for her liking... "We split up - I guess he didn't find a hole in the fence like I did."
"Or maybe it just wasn't big enough for normal sized humans."
Scully shot him an exasperated look as she tilted the prone Doctor's head back, and checked his airway, instinctively reaching for a pulse. She counted for five seconds, multiplied by twelve...
Mulder looked back at Scully. "What's wrong?"
She rested her head on the left side of the Doctor's chest, then the right. "His pulse is about ten a minute. I also thought he had an unusual echo or arrhythmia - but then I checked his heartrate. He's got two hearts."
Mulder shrugged. After seeing a time-travelling flying phone booth bigger inside than out, any other revelation about this man was an anti-climax. "Is he okay?"
"I don't know! How the hell can I diagnose a man whose anatomy doesn't correspond with any known medical text?" Snapped Scully, the acid rising in the back of her throat, and the telltale edges of panic rising in her chest. She rested her hands on his abdomen and watched the rising and falling of his diaphragm.
"Can't you take a guess?"
Scully started to prepare a particularly stinging response then tried to calm down. "He seems to be okay...since he looks human, maybe some of the visible symptoms should be recognisable as well. Let's see - breathing unobstructed, no other injuries...."
Suddenly, the Doctor sat up, eyes wide open, exhibiting none of the usual sluggishness that recovery from unconsciousness brings on. He looked at Scully with intense interest.
"You didn't try to resuscitate me, did you?"
"Good." The Doctor struggled to an upright position, Scully helping him up. He quickly probed his own body for injuries. When he reached his head, he winced, fingers recoiling away from the gash.
Mulder looked around, and saw Griers in the distance, near the chain-link fence. He waved to the distant figure, and looked back at Scully.
"Mulder, go find your firearm, we still have to bust a gun-running operation." He nodded, and ran towards Joey, who had taken his gun not ten minutes ago.
Scully looked at the gash in The Doctor's head - a two inch laceration, the edges not too far apart. She took out her first aid kit from her overcoat pocket, and took out some antiseptic.
The Doctor looked morose, like a large child sulking. In order to take his mind of.... whatever, she started to talk. "How did you get this?"
"Severely underestimating a Cyberman. I nearly got Fox killed."
"What exactly is a Cyberman?" She muttered, dabbing bacteria-killing fluid, seeing The Doctor wince like a small child.
"Cybernetic monster from outer space. Something that I should never have gotten close to."
Scully shook her head, wondering how Mulder did it to nearly every person they met. "That was probably some kind of body armour. Some enforcer who...."
The Doctor whipped around. "That was a cyborg! Even body armour couldn't allow it to withstand the impact of several bullets."
Scully heard the footfalls of Mulder's shoes clicking along the concrete fall. She then took a deep breath - reminding herself who this person was. "I didn't see...."
The Doctor looked away from her. "You're always assuming a theory and using the evidence found later on to support it. No wonder when..." He suddenly stopped, and looked pensive.
Scully felt a very faint feeling along her stomach, along with a tense cramping. "No wonder what?"
The Doctor said nothing. She leaned in closer. "It's the future, isn't it. It's something about my future."
Still nothing. Scully set down her swab, and closed her first aid case. "You were about to say something about my future. What - is - it."
The Doctor remained stubbornly silent.
The answer came to Scully like a bolt from the heavens. She grabbed his ear and pulled upwards. He raised up, trying to alleviate the pain, but Scully rose with him, years of baby-sitting lending an ease of long practice.
"I can't....ow!....tell....ow! OW! OWW!"
"Tell me now, Doctor."
"You...ow!....you're seen as Mulder's Salieri!"
Scully immediately let go of the Doctor's ear, and he clutched his tortured flesh, backing away from the stunned redhead.
The Doctor looked sorrowful, and took a deep breath. "Not too long from now, when the dust settles, when the secrets are revealed, when the dusty cupboards are thrown open - your reports on Fox Mulder will be made accountable to public scrutiny. Worldwide public opinion will seek a scapegoat to explain why the hero of the hour wasn't allowed to reach the hidden secrets earlier."
Scully sat back down on the ground, the shock starting to sink in.
The Doctor, who had never been content to do anything by halves, laid it all out. "Senate Hearings, Supreme Court Trials, global news conferences. Investigators, reporters, strange men in unfashionable clothing will pick apart your education, your psychological state, and even your loyalty to the FBI. You'll be reviled all over the globe as somebody who never could hope to understand even the most basic facts or a new idea - despite all the support of your allies."
Scully looked up at the Doctor, looking very pale. "I...that is...Mulder can't be right about..."
The Doctor looked away from her gaze, not feeling very good about this at all. "He's not. But the media will require a villain...."
Scully raised her hand near his mouth. "I...I don't want to hear that.... you could be making it...."
She abruptly turned away, towards Mulder, who was nearby.
The Doctor looked towards the roof of the shelter, wondering why in this incarnation he had gained the ability to put his foot in it unparalleled since.......his fifth body.
Scully walked over to Mulder, who was finishing talking to Griers, recapping him on the situation. She quickly grabbed Mulder by the bicep, and led him away from anybody else. After they had traveled a considerable distance, she stopped, and spoke to her partner in low tones.
"Do you see me as an open-minded individual, Mulder?"
The agent decided that biting his tongue - hard - was the best response. He had heard the Doctor's hesitant answer. The Doctor hadn't lied to them, seemed nearly incapable of lying - and Mulder could hear the regret that history's judgement would render on Scully. She wouldn't be remembered as brave, intelligent, industrious or strongly committed to her beliefs.
She would only be remembered as an opinionated and timid cynic.
Scully was not pleased by this lack of response.
"Do you think I fear some of the stuff we see? I mean - The Doctor couldn't be right...."
Mulder bit harder - he could now taste blood.
"Damn it Mulder, are you going to answer me?!?!" She hissed.
Mulder let go of his tongue and decided to be as diplomatic as possible.
"Scully, I refuse to answer on the grounds that it might incriminate you." he hoped - desperately - that she got the message.
Griers had walked over to them at this point. "Are you two finished? The chopper's arriving."
Mulder looked up to where Griers indicated. Two helicopters were approaching the docks from the bay, at a low altitude.
Scully's voice was at a low monotone. "Those aren't LAPD."
Mulder nodded. "They'd have their spotlights on, and be travelling at a safer height. They're trying to skip airport radar."
The Doctor looked at the closely approaching helicopters. "Well, whoever they are, they're not very happy. Once they realise that we're not the welcoming committee, they'll open fire and sell the weapons elsewhere."
Scully took the concussion weapon and sighted it to the helicopters. "What's the range of these things?"
The Doctor looked at her, and quickly snatched the gun from her hands. "Fifteen kilometers, and you're not going to shoot them down. We're going to stop them with a minimum of bloodshed."
Griers looked at the Doctor with alarm, and tried to take the rifle. "Are you crazy?"
"I don't want to increase the body count any more than I have to!"
Mulder quickly intervened. "Doctor! When the police in San Fran picked up the gang in Chinatown, their weapons were melted."
The Doctor nodded. "I did that with an electromagnetic pulse." He dug in his pocket, and pulled out the silver torch device, which had opened a safe vault and picked a padlock. "My sonic screwdriver. Very useful - but it only has a five metre range."
Mulder took the device and examined it. "Couldn't you boost the range somehow?"
The Doctor ran a hand through his hair. "Maybe.....if....." He looked at the FBI agents suddenly. "How good are you at pulling apart things? Mechanical parts, that sort of thing?"
Scully shrugged with a helpless look on her face while Mulder tried to assess his ability. "Well, sort of....."
The Doctor grabbed Mulder and Scully's wrists, and dragged them to the fallen Cyberman. He quickly flipped the cyborg on it's back, and made a quick setting on his sonic screwdriver. "Now, use this-" he passed the sonic screwdriver to Scully "-and this-" he pulled out a tool kit from one of his pockets "-and this-" he gave a large crowbar to Griers. "-and dismantle our friend's chest unit. Take every component you can. I'll be back in a moment."
With that, he ran towards the chain link fence several hundred metres away. Scully looked at the unusual device, and pointed it at the Cyberman, pressing a control on it's side. Immediately, several screws started turning, lifting themselves out of the sides of the chest unit. The screws fell out, and the cover on the chest unit fell off with a noisy clatter.
Mulder looked at Scully with the envy that only a North American male seeing a superior power tool can generate. "I should have gotten that."
Scully looked at the mass of...indescribable machinery before her, and triggered the screwdriver again, making a component fall loose from it's moorings. "I'm sure if you ask nicely, he'll let you have a go after me."
Griers was enthusiastically levering out something that looked like a distributor cap. "Maybe he can tell us where he bought it."
A wheezing and groaning started to fill the area. The three law enforcement officers turned their heads to the source of the sound and watched a blue box roughly the same size of a telephone booth materialise from thin air about twenty metres away.
Scully watched the open-mouthed Griers with amusement. "Maybe the same place he got that."
The doors of the TARDIS opened, to show the Doctor with an armful of components and tools running towards them.
"Any good parts there?"
Scully looked at The Doctor with interest. "Let me guess - right now you're still running to the TARDIS but you just went back in time as well as space."
The Doctor looked at Scully with something like praise. "Yes.... something like that."
Mulder held up some parts. "What exactly are we doing?"
The Doctor had taken some of the parts that had been scavenged from the Cyberman and his fingers were working at a feverish pace, assembling them into a brand new device. Occasionally he would take a part from the pile he had brought with him, and incorporate it into the structure.
"Using some of the power devices from the Cyberman, and the parts from my TARDIS, I can create a booster device for my sonic screwdriver. Whether it works, that's a different kettle of fish."
Mulder looked at the helicopters - they were now very close - close enough for anybody with binoculars to see them. "What can we do now?"
The Doctor shrugged his head towards the TARDIS. "Hide behind that - that's the only substance on Earth that those weapons can't penetrate."
The helicopters were now very close - Mulder estimated that they would be here in seconds. He took up his recovered weapon and checked the magazine. Scully took out her automatic and cocked the hammer, while Griers took his Magnum load revolver and prepared to do battle.
The Doctor looked up. The helicopters were hovering over the water by now. The device he created was an odd assortment of futuristic junk with a cable connected to his sonic screwdriver.
He triggered the device.
There was a large flaring in the engines of the helicopters - and the whirring of the blades noticeably slowed. Then they dropped like stones into the bay.
The Doctor realised - the pulse had the effect of neutralising the magneto cable and electrical mechanism of the vehicles. He quickly ran to the edge of the pier and looked at the site - several people were swimming from the stranded machines, swearing and spluttering - but still breathing.
The Doctor frowned, noticing that Barstow was absent. Oh well, people like him usually got what they deserved sooner or later.
Griers was pointing his gun at the swimmers and reading them those rights of theirs. Mulder and Scully were doing the same.
The Doctor quickly left, taking his pile of junk. The weapons were destroyed, nothing more for him to do here.
Scully turned to the Doctor, and saw him walking towards the TARDIS. She whispered to Mulder. "Gotta go." and left.
Mulder wondered what she was doing, but decided to wait for a while before pursuing her.
As the Doctor headed towards the familiar blue shape of his vehicle, his refuge, his home, he heard the rapid slapping of small feet running across tarmac.
The Doctor turned, to see Scully heading towards him on a fast trot. He delayed placing the key inside the lock until she reached him, chest heaving for oxygen.
"Ah, come to see me off? Well, I hate goodbyes, all that emotional...baggage. Very...."
"Doctor, will you...shut up...for a..." wheezed the diminutive woman, leaning against the warehouse wall.
Scully waited until her pulse rate fell to a more comfortable level while the Doctor waited next to the TARDIS. When she had composed herself, she brushed down her clothes, facing the Doctor squarely in the eye.
"You...get around, don't you?"
He shrugged. "Places, times, worlds, galaxies...I've seen part of what the Universe has to offer."
"You think...you think you can show me?"
The request left the Doctor momentarily speechless. He waited until he was sure that he could speak English coherently, and then formulated the most articulate response that came to mind.
"Er...why...why that then?"
"You said history remembers me as some kind of...continually abusive mentally limited individual of little redeeming features who couldn't believe even the most obvious facts even if they were staring me in the face and shouting at full volume."
The Doctor demonstrated the wisdom that had kept him alive for over a thousand years and decided to keep his mouth shut at this point. Scully took this silence as a cue to go on.
"I.... I don't want to be known as somebody like that. I want to see things that others can't believe and laugh because I saw something even weirder last week. I want to know everything that's out there and beyond. I don't want to keep on slamming my head against a brick wall and continually come up with nothing. I don't want to be remembered as a person who hid everything that scared her into a nice little entry in a textbook. I don't want to be abducted on a regular basis. I don't want - I don't want to be afraid of what's in the dark anymore."
"I want to travel with you Doctor."
The Doctor took a deep breath. "Dana, I can't take you with me."
Scully's features blanched in concern. "You said that you were tired of being alone. I...."
"Dana - first of all, the people who travel with me are lucky just to be abducted every second day. They also get possessed, hypnotised, brainwashed, locked up, nearly killed..."
Scully crossed her arms against her chest and gave the Doctor a piercing look. "But that's not the real reason."
The Doctor decided to lay it out. "You will become a pivotal individual within human history. What you and Fox will do...it'll redefine how humanity views itself and the rest of the universe as a whole. I can't say how, or when - but I can't disrupt the actions that you will perform."
Scully suddenly brightened. "The TARDIS could take off now - and you could drop me here a few minutes later - for me a few months, or years in the future..."
The Doctor shook his head. "You would become a whole new individual with the experiences I usually come up with. You might not make those crucial decisions in the future that...well, you'll have to trust me on that."
Scully let out a deep shuddering breath, eyes now full of fear. A fear of what was to come. "Then what could I do? I don't want...want to be so ...limited anymore."
The Doctor suddenly produced his bag of jelly babies. "If you want to show history what you're capable of, just remember - it isn't about what's believable. What should guide your decisions is what's inherently...right. Don't bother whether or not to believe - I certainly don't - just show the world you have faith, and can act on what you have faith in."
Scully looked at the bag suspiciously. "Faith? In what?"
"Humanity. The Earth. Your pet fish. The fact that even though that humanity has a cruel streak that rivals anything-" The Doctor pointed up to the heavens with his hand containing the TARDIS key, expression taking on a wistful cast "-out there; the good, the moral centre of what we call this planet is far greater than any fantastic conspiracy, genetic mutant or other nasty thing lurking in whatever dark cellar exists in the human subconscious. And that quality should be protected from any threat, at any personal cost."
Scully hesitated, then took a jelly baby - one of the rare red ones that everybody liked but few are destined to actually find. The Doctor smiled, the smile of a teacher whose pupil has just learned an important lesson.
"Remember, don't believe, don't dispute..."
"...just close your eyes, and go with your gut." she solemnly popped the jelly baby in her mouth and chewed.
"The only way to save the universe, get the girl, and arrive home in time for tea."
The sound of running shoes turned both their heads, as Mulder ran towards the duo.
"Doctor.... Scully...I thought...."
"Don't worry, he hasn't abducted me - once was enough." Scully jibed, mouth full. She turned towards the Doctor, and took his still accessible paper bag. The Doctor smiled as she fished out another red one, and proffered the packet to Mulder. He stopped heaving for breath, and looked at the assortment. Eventually, after much exhalation, he fished out an orange one, and chewed it.
Scully offered the packet back to the Doctor, but he waved it away. "I've got a few spare tonnes in there." He jabbed back towards the TARDIS.
Mulder finished chewing - those things were way different than his usual diet of sunflower seeds - and looked at the Doctor. "So, this is it?"
The Doctor shrugged. "You never know - I'll be in the area. Perhaps I already am. Or left ten minutes ago after saving the planet - again. Difficult to tell with time travel."
Mulder phrased his next question carefully. "Do we win?"
The Doctor grimaced. "Your friend - the fellow who smokes a lot - already asked me that. All I can say is...in order to make the final victory - there will have to be sacrifices."
Mulder stepped closer to Scully - perhaps protectively? "Someone?"
The Doctor shook his head. "No. No crusade, no quest, no grand destiny is worth that - if you start thinking like that, you've become what you're hunting down. You might have to sacrifice - something."
Mulder scratched his head, chewing reflectively. "I'm confused."
"When the time comes, you won't be." The Doctor opened the TARDIS door and entered the blue box. He then stuck his head out to deliver one last final edict.
"Remember - it's your moral, not your factual beliefs that will ultimately help you. Ask yourself if what you're doing is right and you can't go wrong."
Mulder nodded, but Scully was - as always - more pragmatic.
"And how do we know if we're right?"
The Doctor started to speak, then shut his mouth and scratched his head. Then he shrugged. "You know, I'm not too certain about that myself. If you ask me to define a correct moral sense we'll be here for the next two centuries."
With that, his head popped in, and the TARDIS began to emit a wheezing, trumpeting noise that sounded like an elephant passing a kidney stone. The shape of the TARDIS dissolved into a blue nimbus then disappeared entirely.
Mulder walked towards where the TARDIS was, and waved his hand where the Police Box had previously been. He turned towards Scully. Normally, he would be crowing that an actual alien had taken them time travelling - actual proof of existence. Now - he was too tired. And too overwhelmed with the future The Doctor had given them.
Scully was on her fourth jelly baby now. She looked up at Mulder, mouth full.
"Do you think..."
"...that he told us those clues, the hints about our future - so that we would either go along with them, or does he think that we'll try to do the opposite of what he says, so that we do what we're supposed to do?"
Mulder decided not to deliberate on that thought. Trying to out-think someone who traveled in time and used information from the future was risking headaches and brain damage. He walked towards Scully, placing his hand around her shoulders, and leading her away from the warehouse to the street. Hopefully, there was a nearby public phone. Hopefully, he could think of a good explanation for Skinner as to how they managed to travel to Los Angeles without car or plane, and the sudden bust of a major gun-running operation which involved British Intelligence and an ex-NSA operative in one night.
Skinner didn't buy it, or believe the report that Mulder and Scully eventually gave him. But he scrawled his signature on it anyway, and told the duo to bury the offending document somewhere that nobody would ever find it. The report eventually migrated to the middle of Mulder's 'filing system' on his desk, wedged in the middle of a copy of 'Celebrity Skin'.
The NSA took responsibility for muzzling the press and the clean-up operations at the dock, and the two were visited by a visiting British Civil Servant called Sir Bernard Wooley, who dropped several unsubtle hints about Police Boxes, Cybermen and UNIT. Mulder stubbornly kept his mouth shut, while Scully indirectly dropped hints that a certain Time Lord might have been involved. After all - somebody had to keep tabs on that lunatic, and better the Brits than her.
The matter faded with time and in importance. Mulder and Scully continued with their work. She basically remained unchanged by her experiences, still demanding scientific and rational explanations for what they saw and felt.
Sometimes, however, she would see something, and remain silent, trying not to explain, to rationalise, to seek answers - but trying to simply act on what she saw. Acting not on the rational choice, but for what was better.
That was the Time Lord's gift.
A hand on an anachronistically garbed arm reached for a hardback edition of a certain book published a considerable time after his destination point. The hand quickly leafed through dog-eared pages, reminder notes centuries old and grubby chocolate-imprinted fingerprints until it reached the page he wanted. The hand's owner raised his eyebrows in mild surprise.
"Good grief.......she actually did it...."
Sometime later - The Doctor returned..........
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Finally, I have finished this story. Dedicated to Paul McGann, who has the potential to become the greatest Doctor since Tom Baker. Long live The Doctor.